Once again the fall season has come and Friday nights are filled with cheering fans, intense rivalries and bright lights shining down on the football field.
The football season is back.
As East Ridge, Woodbury and Academy Force prepare for the upcoming season, each team is looking at continue learning the game of football resulting in the increase of wins overall.
"It's hard to tell how good or bad a team is, but it's easy to tell how hard they work and how competitive they are," said Dan Fritze, East Ridge head coach. "We see no kids slacking off and they're competing everyday, which is really encouraging."
Fritze said the team had the injury bug last season and didn't practice for depth which led to the Raptors finishing 3-5 in the regular season. This summer and preseason there's been a focus on teaching players multiple positions, so there's more depth at any position.
Consistency is key this season for the Raptors and the five captains on the team are in all agreement. Safety Ethan Gerst said there's nothing that needs to change this season from last season, except for being consistent game in and game out.
"We can't wait for Friday nights and being back under the lights," said offensive tackle Nick Basten. "Everything pays off. You know why you worked so hard in the summer."
Woodbury has been working hard in the summer too with some familiar faces as head coach Andy Hill said the Royals are bringing back more returners than probably any other team in the conference.
One of the positions open this upcoming season is quarterback and Hill is confident junior Jake Wenzel can handle the position.
"This is probably one of the best summers we've had throughout my time here as a coach," Hill said.
There was a focus on weight lifting and getting each player in the best shape possible to start the season off. The Royals had two tales of a season with four close games early resulting in an 0-4 record and finishing the season with four straight wins, completing a 4-4 regular season.
Hill is hoping to turn those close losses into wins this season and improve upon the record. He knows the seniors will be an influential part of this season, but is positive they will give everything to this season.
"There's been a lot of hard work this preseason all the way down to the third stringers," said Woodbury wide receiver Dale Pearson. "It's showing in the competitive drive each player has and hopefully it'll show on the football field Friday nights."
The Academy Force football team is going through an offseason of many changes, including a new head coach. Noah Dombrovski is going through his first preseason and first upcoming season as a head coach, but his football knowledge has been there since a child when he first started the sport.
Dombrovski said he's been teaching many of the basic skills to these new players, so they can understand how to play football in the right way. The unique part about this team is it's a co-op, consisting of eight different schools around the metro area.
"Many of these players live near each other, but never knew each other because they went to different schools," Dombrovski said. "Football gives them the opportunity to meet new people and develop a strong community."
Many of the players understand it's going to be hard to understand a new playbook and atmosphere, but they are prepared to change. They know these changes will translate to wins in the program in the future.
"We're just hoping to build off last season," said New Life senior Cooper Falteisek. "If we keep working hard, it'll show on the field."