High school football is back

Area teams take the field for first day of practice

Alpena High School junior Charlie Williams runs through the blaster during a drill during Alpena’s first day of football practice on Monday at the Alpena High School practice fields.

Football is back.

Nearly nine months of offseason has come and gone and high school teams around the state are back on the gridiron as they prepare for the upcoming 2019 football season.

Some area teams wasted no time beginning practices as Posen continued its annual tradition when the clock struck midnight as the Vikings turned the lights on for the 12th straight year to celebrate their version of midnight madness and get an early start to the new season.

Rogers City also turned the lights on and practiced at midnight while the rest of the area schools started off day one by taking the field at different times on Monday.

“We’re just excited. The kids are ready, we had a good summer and now it’s time to roll,” Posen coach Greg Pietsch said. “Our midnight practice is a tradition and it’s something the kids look forward to, playing under the lights and is almost like game conditions. That’s what makes high school football so special, playing under the lights and we all look forward to that. It’s fun.”

Four area eight-player teams, Posen, Hillman, Atlanta and Onaway began practices all with goals of building off of last season.

Three of the four teams made the playoffs and are hoping to get back to the postseason this season and the programs know the journey begins on the first day.

“There’s a lot of excitement, everyone’s happy to be here and all the kids are ready to be here and work hard,” Hillman coach Cody Allen said. “We’re just looking to get better every day. The kids put in the work during the summer, now it’s time to work even harder and it’s a grind for a lot of these athletes because most of them don’t get a break.”

For the four 11-player teams in the area, Alpena, Rogers City, Alcona and Oscoda, two teams are hoping to have similar success as Rogers City and Oscoda enjoyed winning seasons, while Alcona looks to get back to its winning ways and Alpena began a new era Monday under new head coach Eric Mitchell.

“You count down all summer to get to this day. We’ve done everything else, put in work all summer, had to deal with adversity again with the kids not knowing who the coach was going to be, but they still put in the work and now we’re ready to go,” Mitchell said. “It really is cool to be the head guy now, but I really haven’t thought about it much to be honest. I just wanted to get to this point, get to this first day and now that we’re here, I couldn’t be more excited.”

Area teams ran through certain drills and focused on conditioning to get back into form after the summer months.

Each program will spend the first four days practicing with just helmets before players put on the pads and contact drills can begin on Friday.

“The kids are excited to be out here and they all have an itch,” Mitchell said. “It’s the first day and it is exciting, but to me the first real day is Friday. That’s the first day you can have contact and I say it over and over, anyone can look like an all-star without pads on, but there’s a lot of things that need to be done when you strap the pads on and lay it on the line. It’s exciting, but it’s not really football until Friday.”