All the off-season weight lifting, running and camps are in the rearview mirror.
There are a lot of new faces around the practice fields, and not all of them are under helmets.
Two new head coaches took the field Thursday in the six-team Class 1 Cumberland District, while three new coaches are at the helm in the seven-team Class 2 Mountain 7 District.
The most notable change is in Norton, where Jacob Caudill is serving as interim coach of the J.I. Burton program after longtime Raiders coach Jim Adams was suspended with pay.
Earlier this week, Adams filed legal action seeking an injunction against the school system that would allow him to return to his teaching and coaching position.
The other coaching changes are less complicated and come after previous coaches resigned.
Chris Lark is the other new coach in the Cumberland. He replaces Darrell Taylor at Castlewood.
MOUNTAIN 7’s NEW CLASS
Almost half of the Mountain 7 teams will have new coaches on the sidelines.
Jeremy Houseright is the new guy at Gate City.
Houseright, a former player and assistant coach for the Blue Devils, steps in with the goal of turning around a proud program that has stumbled in the last few years.
Former Tennessee lineman Alec Haston, like Houseright and new John Battle coach Bradley Ricker, will have his first head coaching job on the varsity football field this season.
Haston will face his share of challenges at Lee High in the always tough Mountain 7.
Virginia-Wise football may have the feeling that it’s being haunted by late comedian Rodney Dangerfield.
Talk about no respect.
The Cavaliers join the South Atlantic Conference and seem to be nearly invisible to the SAC’s coaches and football media relations directors.
Virginia-Wise, which finished last season with a 4-6 record, was picked to finish last by the SAC coaches in the nine-team conference.
Lenoir-Rhyne was picked to win the SAC by the coaches, receiving five of the nine first-place votes in the poll.
Wingate received three first-place votes and was picked to finish second.
The other first-place vote went to Tusculum, which was picked fourth behind third-place pick Carson-Newman.
Rounding out the picks were Newberry, Catawba, Mars Hill, Limestone and Virginia-Wise.
If the coaches’ poll does not provide Virginia-Wise with enough motivation heading into the season, the SAC’s preseason team selected by the conference’s sports media relations directors should do the trick.
Only one Cavalier, defensive back Marcus Tarrer, was named to the 59-member first and second team all-conference squads.
Carson-Newman leads the picks on the first-team with eight players, including quarterback Derrick Evans.
Evans threw for 637 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 439 yards and six touchdowns last year for the Eagles.