The sun had cleared the small mountains surrounding Frazier Field, and the tempertures at the Woodville High School football stadium was already at a sweltering level.
Cameramen wiped their brows with already sweat-drenched towels, while others grumbled at the oppressive heat’s early morning arrival.
Unfazed, the Woodville cheerleading squad smiled as camera shutters clicked, its images captured for the yearbook, the school’s football program and other media purposes.
Awhile later, the field house doors swung open, and the unmistakable sound of football cleats click-clacking across concrete filled the air. One by one, Woodville football players took turns smiling and looking serious/tough in photos. (For the Sentinel’s annual football preview magazine, Gridiron Guide, the players chose the serious/tough look).
An hour or so after it began, the first football preseason football team photo day was in the books. It’s one of the various signs you can see around Jackson County that the return of high school sports are ever so close.
Look closely and you will see the signs:
› Weight rooms at local schools are filled.
› Cross country runners are climbing hills and piling up mileage.
› Volleyball players are in the gymnasium receiving serves and working on their passing.
› Swimmers are in the pool, building endurance and trimming seconds off their times.
› Football teams are squaring off in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 competitions.
We are only 40 days away from the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s first official competition day (Aug. 23) for fall sports cross country, football and volleyball (swimming, although classified as a fall sport, does not begin its season until mid-September.) Official preseason practices for those sports begin in only three-plus weeks.
Flashing back to Wednesday, the Woodville football players climbed the bleachers at Frazier Field. They lined up in numerical order, their black jerseys with yellow gold numbers standing out against the silver bleachers.
The Panthers looked ready to play.
A few weeks from now, they will.
The return of high school sports is indeed near. The signs tell us so.
› Jason Bowen is the sports editor of the Sentinel. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jason on Twitter at @jbo_sports12