That time of the year when the days are longer, the afternoons hotter and youre close enough to football to start discussing the upcoming season without looking like a fanatic.
Even though were technically a day shy, now seems as good a time as any to get the ball rolling.
Over the next few weeks, Ill be taking a look at different aspects of high school football in the Bi-City area as we lead up to the annual in-depth team-by-team preview that will be released in early August.
This week, Im starting with the schedules.
Heading into 2014, there are plenty of changes to look out for. Teams have moved classifications and regions on both sides of the river, creating some new region rivalries that will certainly be worth watching over the coming years.
Also, the changes created openings in non-region schedules, and I have to give a round of applause to the local coaches because they did not disappoint.
Just a quick look at some of the non-region games that didnt make my top five games to watch:
Mt. Pisgah Christian at Brookstone: The Cougars face a team that went 13-1 and played in the state semifinals last season.
Stockbridge at Central; Central at Harris County: Two intriguing interstate games for the Red Devils. Stockbridge went 11-2 and played in the quarterfinals while the Tigers were 9-3, a program record for wins.
Callaway at Harris County: Callaway went 12-2 and lost to Buford 24-14 in the 2013 state semifinals.
And a few of the very good region games that I also left off:
Auburn at Central; Central at Smiths Station; Central at Enterprise; Smiths Station vs. Prattville; Smiths Station at Auburn: Dont looked so shocked that these games werent included. As exciting as they are and believe me, they are exciting there are just going to be way too many competitive games in this region to give them all a nod right now. Class 7A, Region 2 will be a slugfest worth watching from Week 1 on this season.
Without further preamble, heres the first in a series of five games Im looking forward to this season.
5. Pacelli at Brookstone, Oct. 24
Yes, were starting with a pair of smaller schools (I can hear the large schools grumbling already).
Neither Pacelli nor Brookstone have the attendance that a Carver, Harris County, Smiths Station or Central has on a Friday night, but they dont sacrifice intensity.
This rivalry is as competitive as the next one, and Pacelli made things interesting a year ago when it snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Cougars. This years battle for the BroCelli Jug should be equally intriguing.
Sure, both teams have lost some of their key pieces, most notably quarterback Wyatt Peterson who propelled the Vikings to victory as a senior. There are plenty of impressive athletes to keep an eye on in this one, however, as Pacelli looks to continue the shift in power.
Chris Rehak, a 6-foot-2, 300-pound offensive and defensive lineman for the Vikings is back for his senior year and will be a force on both sides of the ball. DeAndre Bowman, perhaps the Vikings most impressive athlete, also returns.
Brookstone quarterback Jaqwon Roberts joined the starting ranks as a freshman midway through last season, after the teams loss to Pacelli. This season, he will enter his first full campaign at the helm. He accounted for 14 touchdowns (13 passing, 1 rushing) in six games in 2013.
Played late in the season, this game could also have playoff implications.