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‘Twas the night before two-a-days; and all through the state,

The clocks showed it was bedtime; yet all the coaches were wide awake.

Their whistles were hung by the clipboards with care,

With hopes that state title rings soon would be there.

The players were sleeping all warm in their beds,

Just waiting for the alarm clock to ring by their heads.

The grass had been mowed, the lines had been drawn,

While footballs were aired up, ready to be thrown across the lawn.

Then mere hours later, truck engines began to roar.

As coaches and players alike walked through the field house door.

Who picked the music, coach or player?

But a range of country to classic rock to rap begins to blare.

“On the hop!” Coaches cry as players emerge one-by-one,

Because practice, they say, is where games are won.

Whether morning, afternoon or a mixture of two,

Teams around the state get to work before their first game kicks off soon.

Axtell and Dawson start things off for 2018,

Aug. 30 at Waco ISD for everyone to see.

Meanwhile, everyone else gears up for an Aug. 31 kick,

Who will win what game? You won’t want to read my picks.

The choice that should be a piece of cake every week:

Is that the Mart Panthers should continue their streak.

The reigning state champs bring back talent galore,

As Horne and Bailey run for score after score.

Mart’s offense, we know, is a showcase of speed,

While the Panthers defensively are just mean.

As Mart prepares for its new district in Div. II,

Its old opponents in Div. I are all saying, “Whew.”

And then there’s the rivalry that’s spotlighted throughout the state,

China Spring and La Vega in Class 4A.

But this year’s practices for each will have different looks,

As new head coaches hold the playbook.

Don Hyde for the Pirates and for the Cougars, Brian Bell,

Who hope their first years at the helm go well.

And then you have Clifton, who’s excited for fall,

Hoping momentum carries over from their state trip in baseball.

While Class 1A through 4A begin practice this week,

Class 5A and 6A have to wait till the 13th.

And then teams like Waco High, University and Midway,

Hit their practice fields to work on their play.

University, we know, the questions have to get old,

Of when you will break through and find victory gold.

This year, though, the Trojans go on their quest alone,

As constant district foe Waco High is now competing for a Class 6A throne.

The two will meet on that first Friday night,

As new Lions head coach Kwame Cavil leads his alma mater to new heights.

As they come together for a giant district to assemble.

Along with the Lions of red and Wildcats so blue,

Are the Belton Tigers and the Midway Panthers who

Lost quite a bit of talent from last year’s team,

Who almost finished the season undefeated along with some new bling.

Now the question arises for this Panther offense

As to who replaces Tanner Mordecai here in the present tense.

But the success won’t be up to this new quarterback

As the Panthers have plenty of talent in James Fullbright, their trusty running back.

This rhyme could continue on, as you suppose,

With 64 teams, I’m sure some will oppose.

“What about my team?” many will ask.

Just wait a minute, because I assure you we at the Trib are up to the task.

As practices start, our schedules intensify, you can be sure,

Because for the next few weeks we go on our own Central Texas tour.

Talking to players and coaches from every team,

We hear all their plans as well as their dreams.

For state titles of course and a bit of redemption,

They hope when playoffs come they won’t be up for exemption.

But for now as the Texas heat roasts everything in sight,

The countdown moves from practices to game night.

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