Tuesday marks the first day that high school football players can practice and the three Eau Claire high schools are optimistic for the upcoming season.
We start at Regis, where Bryant Brenner's squad is coming off 5-5 playoff season which saw them finish tied for third in Cloverbelt.
Last years squad featured a lot of youth and this year with returning players such as defensive back and North Dakota State commit Jaxson Brown, Brenner and the Ramblers are ready to get this season started..
"We're really excited to be here as players and coaches. It's kind of like Christmas morning for us right now. I'm really proud of our kids that have decided to come out for football. Playing football here at Regis is not an easy thing to do, so I'm extremely proud of these guys. We have sixty kids out 9-12, and I couldn't be prouder of them for accepting the challenge."
Just like Regis, Eau Claire Memorial also finished 5-5 last year and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
As always, playing in competitive Big Rivers Conference will be a test for the Old Abes, but they do return quite a few seniors such as quarterback Ben Everhart and an excited group that is ready for action.
"We have big expectations this year", says senior Chance Meier, " We have a lot of returning guys on both sides of the ball. We have a lot of seniors. I think we have good leadership this year, so it's going to be fun if we have some big things coming."
"It's just that August that you long for" says Derek Mroczenski. " As soon as football is done, you get that week break and I just want to get back on the field. You get out here, you work, you sweat you bleed. I consider everyone on this team my brother, not by the blood that runs through our veins, but by the blood we leave on our field."
Meanwhile optimism continues to fuel Eau Claire North. Despite winning just one game last year, the Huskies showed a lot of promise under head coach Josh Fizel and after a summer of hitting the weights want to continue to make their way up to the upper tier of the Big Rivers Conference.
"I think the best thing for the staff is to just get out here being able to spend time with these young men and coach them up. They certainly have worked hard through the winter and the offseason to get themselves ready for today, so it was just fun to be back together out on the practice field."
"Yeah, energy levels are high," says Matt Kent" and guys are just trying to make a name for themselves and trying to find the right fit where they're playing. We're just trying hard to get a more team feel, so we're all working together."