Is it the sixth week of regular season football already? This recent summer cooling spell would have us all thinking so, especially around sundown.
Monday’s opening days of preseason workouts, as well as the first full week of drills, will feature temperatures barely reaching the 80-degree mark.
Now we’ll see if a few Elkhart County area programs can make a 180-degree turn in their on-field fortunes while others will look to keep their mojo intact.
No pads or hitting until Thursday. Scrimmages will be held on Friday, Aug. 15 with the season set to kick it off for real on Aug. 22.
Here are five things I’ll be looking for as I roam the practice fields over the next few weeks:
KICKSTARTING OLD RIVALS
NorthWood and Goshen, perennial front-runners in the Northern Lakes Conference, need to re-charge batteries and offseason legacy coaching hires are expected to eventually bring both programs back to the forefront. Nate Andrews, son of Panther Hall of Fame coach Jim Andrews, and Kyle Park, whose father, Brad, coached the last great Redskins teams before retiring in 2002, have their work cut out.
At NorthWood, a 4-6 record left the Panthers with the school’s first back-to-back losing seasons and they’ve experienced three sub-.500 seasons in the last four. For Goshen, the scorecard is worse — five straight losing seasons, including last season’s 0-10 run, and only two wining seasons since 2002.
The last time the Redskins and Panthers finished in the top half of the NLC together is 2007. That just doesn’t seem right. Be curious to see the football energy from the players in each camp.
Consistency at quarterback is far from a new concept, but last year it was a tough road for Elkhart Central and Elkhart Memorial. Between injuries and lineup moves, both schools went through plenty of changes in the backfield.
If potential starters Antwaan Allen of the Blue Blazers and Trevor Trowbridge for the Crimson Chargers can remain healthy and raise their respective games, Elkhart football will become a factor. And Central has the county’s most productive running back in senior Joe Phillips, a durable dynamo who ran crazy, at times, in 2013.
Can’t wait to see this young man in action again.
RAISING THE RAIDERS
Was Northridge a one-trick pony or will coach Tom Wogomon keep the Middlebury momentum and feel-good story going? The Raider got a taste of running with the NLC big dogs for the first time in school history. I don’t see Wogomon and his staff allowing the program to take a step back after such a huge jump in Friday night performance.
The Minutemen are on a roll and have enough horses in their stable for another tournament run. With four straight conference titles and seven in the last 10 seasons, Concord is clearly the NLC’s high-bar standard. Jerrell Pointdexter emerged as the most dynamic offensive threat in the area. Minutemen just need ways to get him the ball this fall.
After numerous invitations, I’ve finally carved out time to attend Fairfield’s annual practice celebration of football where graduated seniors return for a grill session atop the famed hill behind the school. Instead of backpedaling up the slopes for conditioning drills, I’ll be feasting with the Falcons and head coach Bob Miller, who reportedly has shed a bunch of weight. Good for him.
Gentlemen, start your grills. Let’s eat and play football.