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."
Park has been working hard in the summer, too, after a good season last year, but a hard way to end the season.
The Wolfpack finished last season with a 6-2 regular season record, but had their eyes on Apple Valley for the section tournament. However, their first opponent was St. Thomas Academy and they ended up losing in them to end their season.
"We learned that you can't take any team for granted, especially in the postseason," said offensive tackle Carson Ruschmeyer. "This season we'll look at each opponent before going onto the next game."
Head coach Darin Glazier is hoping for a similar outcome in the regular season as last year and believes the team has plenty of depth to provide that outcome.
Glazier said the conference Park is in for football is tough and each week will be a new challenge and test for the Wolfpack football team. He truly believes that this team is ready for any challenge that comes their way and understands how to handle it whether it's in practice or on the field Friday night.
"We have a great leadership core with our seniors and upperclassmen," Glazier said. "They understand the expectations and they will pass those expectations down to the younger players throughout this preseason."
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."