Whooo-ha! Football, volleyball and cross country practices are under way, with action cranking up by Aug. 22. Can't say it got here soon enough because it didn't.
Lady Tiger volleyball coach Kayla Madewell helped it get here sooner than later as she has scheduled a match against Springdale for Tuesday, Aug. 22. That's right, the first week of school.
Not only that, she's got another game for that Thursday, Aug. 24, and a tournament at Mountain Home that Saturday, Aug. 26.
Lady Bobcat volleyball coach Kristin Smith is taking it a little slower in her first outing, holding off until Monday, Aug. 28, for a home match with Gentry.
Cross country isn't far away either, with the Berryville Bobcat home meet set for Saturday, Sept. 9, at 10 a.m.
But it is football that brings the fans out in mass. Parents, fans and former coaches show up for practices in the sweltering heat and humidity [which, by the way, is normal for this time of year. Yeah, normal].
The first scrimmages are eagerly awaited by both players and fans. The players are sick of beating on each other, and the fans are sick of ESPN reruns of the 19-whatever Orange Bowl game.
I lost my mind last week and trusted to memory when I reported that the Berryville and Green Forest scrimmages were on the same date. My notes don't say that, my former stories don't say that, but somehow my mind said that to me last week and I printed it.
That's what happens when you're a "veteran" sports reporter. Anyway, the Bobcats couldn't find a jamboree to participate in, so they'll play themselves on Friday, Aug. 18 [Yes, I checked it again], at 7 p.m.
The Tigers will host Marshall on Thursday, Aug. 24, for a jamboree, so football fans across the county will be able to see a preview of both teams. And what a preview it will be!
The Bobcats list 23 seniors on the roster, and a bunch of them have been starters throughout the last five years. They have good size in the line, an experienced quarterback, and the need to prove something to themselves and their fans.
New coach Bobby Bishop has infused a new spirit and will also get the benefit of the last three year's preparations.
The Tigers have most of the same staff, but lost Marc McCutcheon and Claude Whited. They've added David Joyce, a UofA grad who was a high school standout athlete at Van Buren, but it's his first coaching job.
Whited and McCutcheon were knowledgeable veterans that had a good rapport with students, so they will be missed. But Coaches Bill Gotto, Jay Martin and Tony Coffey have a group that knows the system and have been running it since seventh grade. They have size in the line, experience in the backfield, and a solid winning tradition.
And that is the big difference in the two squads. On paper, they look very similar. But when it comes to wins, the Bobcats have only had a sniff, while the Tigers routinely win more than half their games.
How will it play out? Come to the scrimmages and games and see for yourself!