It's that time of year again, as Tri-State high school football teams prepare to take to the gridiron, all in hopes of hoisting up a state title at the end of the season.
However this time around feels a little different. In stark contrast to last season's mask-wearing and sideline social distancing, practice looks much more like that of the pre-Coronavirus days of the past.
In Huntingburg, Southridge head coach Scott Buening has his Raiders looking to return to their accustomed position among the state's elite, despite losing several key pieces to their championship puzzle.
Last season, the Raiders managed to battle adversity of Covid 19, as well as the opposition all the way to the 3-A Semi-State game. And their looking forward to leaving half that task in the rear-view mirror this season.
"To be out, not worrying about distancing, masks and, you know, how to manage water, how to manage the locker room, you know, how to manage all those things," said Buening. "We're very appreciative to get to play last year. I know it took a lot of work from a lot of people to make that happen. But it's nice to be training more normal, having your scrimmages in the summer again. Those kind of things."
"It's a huge relief being out here," said Southridge senior fullback/safety Aiden Yochum. "Not worrying about getting shutdown for two weeks at any time. Being with the guys all summer. It's really nice. Way better than last year."
"It's nice to be back to how it was," said Southridge senior running back/safety Kaden Neukam. "We're able to do full contact the way it used to be. Especially, with our lifting, we're back to being able to be in the weight room. We don't have to be out on the football field, separated."
44 Sports will begin our high school football team previews next week.