No, it’s not your imagination.
High school football season is upon us as teams across the state will hit the practice field for the first time Monday to begin preparing for season-opening games next month.
A handful of coaches feel the confidence of potentially playing for a state title, assuming all goes to plan.
Before a first down snap becomes history, the annual Miami Dolphins High School Football Media Day on Saturday, Aug. 4 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens will conclude the first week of practice.
The year’s event looks to exceed more than 105 teams and 1,500 players from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Non-contact practices officially begin Monday and not until August 4 can teams begin full-contact drills in preparation of the first regular-season Friday night on Aug. 24.
Teams such as Atlantic, Palm Beach Central, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington, Dwyer, Pahokee headline the list of schools seeking title bids.
Gardens coach Billy Clark is confident of his teams’ chances heading into the 2018 season.
“As a former offensive lineman, it really gets me excited when you have a bunch of talented lineman to come play for you,” Clark said. “Not only are they talented,d but they are unbelievably hard working.
“What we got going on at Gardens, there’s a buy in to be a Gator.”
Clark added the season preparation comes with the understanding of dealing with the media.
“It’s so unique,” Clark said the Dolphins Media Day for high schools. “We didn’t have it when I was in high school. For the kids to have the opportunity to go to a major league stadium, to see their facilities, communicate with a ton of media and to see the Dolphins scrimmage is an unbelievable event that kicks off the beginning of the year.”
Wellington coach Tom Abel sides with Clark about the media day.
“It’s important to the players to understand the process and dream to play college football and how reporters approach them,” Abel said. “For all the bells and whistles, it’s well worth it.”
The Wolverines will be as talented as any team in Palm Beach County, with much of the light shining on all-purpose senior Mark-Antony Richards, the No. 77-ranked player in the country according to 247Sports composite of national recruiting sites.
“Everybody knows who he is,” Abel said of the younger brother of University of Miami star receiver Ahmmon Richards. “He’s got 18 Division I offers. He’s the No. 1 all-purpose back in the nation. It’s great to have him on our football great because he can do everything.”
As for Atlantic coach C.J. Jackson, he hopes his Eagles squad can make another surprising run to the Class 8A state title game.
“We need to just focus with we have at hand,” Jackson said. “It’s important to stay disciplined and get better every day, one day at a time. We’re young and have a lot of athletic kids. We have a great opportunity to do great things this year.”
Success on the field will translate to dealing with more media attention as it did last year for the Eagles.
“We already give our kids media training,” Jackson said. “It will be good to see them get the practice at the Dolphins event.”