The 2014 high school football season is officially here.
Contact practices kick off Friday, when teams can start with helmets and cleats and transition into pads as the month wears on.
Both Fort Mill and Nation Ford start with high expectations and are looking to improve on last season. Fort Mill is coming off a 4-7 season, including its first loss to Nation Ford since NaFo opened in 2007. Nation Ford went 7-5 in 2013, including a playoff berth.
“These guys feel like they have something to prove,” said Fort Mill head coach Ed Susi.
The Jackets bring back an experienced squad this year.
“It has been a good spring and summer,” he said. “They have all got a year under this defense and it has been much improved. We have matured.”
Fort Mill will have a bigger senior class this season, which Susi is counting on more senior leadership from his upperclassmen.
Fort Mill will open the season in week zero on Saturday, Aug. 23 at River Bluff High playing White Knoll as part of the Battle of the Bluff. Fort Mill won’t host its annual scrimmage as part of the Battle of the Border this year.
The Jackets will have three scrimmages scheduled in early August while preparing for the season. The team will host Charlotte Country Day Aug. 8 and then travel across the Lancaster County line to scrimmage Indian Land Aug. 12 before hosting Weddington Aug. 15.
Nation Ford will play start its season Saturday, Aug. 2. The Falcons open the season 20 days later against Forestview at home Friday, Aug. 22.
Between now and then, head coach Michael Allen said his team will be working on filling gaps.
“We have some spots to plug,” he said. “We feel like the kids have progressed during the summer. We have some personnel holes we have to figure out, who will fill them.”
Nation Ford has just two scrimmage dates – Aug. 9 and Aug. 12. However, each date has multiple opponents. They will host South Pointe, Rock Hill and Fairfield Central on Aug. 9 and then travel down to Blythewood Aug. 12 to participate in a six-way scrimmage.
In Lancaster County, Indian Land will have three scrimmages and participate in the Lancaster County Jamboree before opening its season against Buford Aug. 29. The Warriors fell on hard times the past two seasons, going 2-8 in 2013 and winning just one game the season before that.
Head coach Michael Mayer said his team needs to be more consistent.
“When we have looked good, we have looked really good and when we look bad, we look really bad,” he said. “We are still a very young team. We have to work on the mental aspects of things.”
Indian Land will travel to CA Johnson for a scrimmage Aug. 8 and then host Fort Mill and Great Falls Aug. 12 before hosting Airport Aug. 14. The Lancaster County Jamboree will be held Aug. 22 at Lancaster, where Indian Land will play the host Bruins.