The chirping of whistles fills the air.
The thunderous clattering of cleats tearing up freshly cut practice fields rumbles through the air.
That green grass will soon turn to dirt with lines.
Yes, it is finally football season. The New England Patriots have already played their first preseason game, but now it is the area high schools’ turn to get back in gear.
Literally, football gear.
This is the weekend where all the football families get in their last vacation before practice starts.
The weather has been hot and humid, just how it should be during the latter days of August.
Over the last two seasons, football camp was relatively moderate with low humidity.
This year, however, is not.
Just how it was back in my day …
At Clinton High School, double sessions were a way of life. If you made it through the first two days, you were doing good.
Tubs of sports cream littered the floor of my old Chevy truck. That’s when you knew football season was upon us.
Surviving the week of double sessions was painful, but gratifying. One year, temperatures reached the 94 degree mark.
Football is a labor of love for some players. The linemen dig in and slam the sleds all afternoon before meeting up with the rest of the team to run plays and of course … sprints.
Everyone has a job, and it is equally important.
But, no matter what that job is, all will be tired at the end of each session.
If not, kudos to you.
Come day three, after all the conditioning practices are done and over — it is time to strap up the helmet and go toe-to-toe with your teammates, who are all working up to that weekend’s scrimmage against someone who you don’t usually play during the season.
On the days where practice does not seem like it will end, Friday night will be just around the corner.
The lights will gleam, the fans will cheer and yes, the smell of tasty concessions will fill the air.
But, soon the fans will cheer and the sounds of the game will take over.
It is time.
Football is back, and I for one could not be more excited.
Two new head coaches will patrol the sidelines at Ayer Shirley and Groton-Dunstable, when practice opens Monday morning.
At Ayer Shirley, Phil Marchengiani takes the helm of a struggling Panthers team.
From what athletic director Jon Sweeney is saying early this off season, it looks like the numbers have increased significantly from the sub-30 roster a year ago.
Marchengiani comes to Ayer Shirley via Assabet Vocational Technical High School in Marlboro, where he was an assistant the last two seasons. Marchengiani is also credited with helping Marian High School (Framingham) advance to six Super Bowls, winning three of them, over 20 seasons.
He has experience in building teams from the bottom up, and appears to be ready for the challenge to put Ayer Shirley football back on the map.
Down Rt. 119, Groton-Dunstable named just its second football coach in its nine year history in Tom Sousa, a longtime assistant coach at local powerhouse Chelmsford since 1991.
Sousa, who still teaches at Chelmsford High, decided to throw his hat into the head coaching ring for the first time in his long career, after catching wind of G-D’s then coach Derek Asadoorian resigning.
Asadoorian took a job at storied Gardner High School, after local staple Walt Dubzinksi decided to call it quits after a long and successful career.
Sousa is a no-nonsense coach with a straight forward approach. He uses that of legendary former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holt’s acronym of W.I.N., which stands for “What’s Important Now.”
He challenges the kids to use that in the classroom and on the football field.
New faces, same game.
It’s time to flip on the Friday night lights again.
Soon the steamy hot weather will give way to brisk autumn nights.
And, those nights cannot come soon enough.
Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout:@EdNiser