KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Monday was a milestone for area high school football teams. The dead period is over, and coaches and players can return to the practice field. All across East Tennessee teams strapped up their helmets and got to work, preparing for a season which quickly approaches.
High School football season ran through last December, with several local teams making deep playoff runs. Oak Ridge made their first state title appearance since 2005, but Wildcat Coach Joe Gaddis is hoping this year looks a bit different from a preparation standpoint.
"It's great to be out here, especially not having to talk to to the team every day twice a day about COVID," said Gaddis.
Fulton Coach Rob Black is entering his 30th season as the Falcons' head coach, and he too echoes Gaddis' remarks.
"I guess the most exciting thing for me going into year 30 is we're not dealing with as much COVID stuff," Black noted.
A more normal offseason brings hope for Black and his football team. The Falcons have been a youthful team in recent years, but this year they're looking to build off of their experience.
"I think the big thing is finally we feel like we're going into year with a little bit of experience," Black said.
For Gaddis and the Wildcats, they have a few big-name seniors, but they're not exactly a team full of veterans. Like Fulton, they will be looking for a mix of youth and experience in 2021. While their ceiling is high, they're no where close to where they want to be when the season rolls around.
"We have a chance to be good. We're not there yet," said Gaddis.