After more than eight months of waiting, high school football has finally returned.
Denton-area teams can start practicing Monday, with the exception of Guyer and Braswell, which have to wait until Aug. 12 because they practiced in the spring.
“I think everybody is going to be excited and ready to go,” said Ryan coach Dave Henigan. “It’s that time.”
Ryan will hold its first practice from 7-9 p.m. Monday night. It’s the first time the Raiders have suited up since falling to Highland Park in the Class 5A (Division I) semifinal last December.
With 13 returning starters, including the likes of Alabama commit Drew Sanders and Texas commit Billy Bowman Jr., expectations surrounding Ryan are high once again.
“The kids are eager,” Henigan said. “I think they know they need to continue to put work in, and we are all excited about the potential for what’s in store for this bunch.”
Across town at Denton High, the Broncos will be up early for their first practice from 6-8 a.m.
Denton went 2-8 last season and missed out on the playoffs for the second straight year. The Broncos will be without leading receiver and defensive back Marcellus Lockley, who transferred to Flower Mound Marcus in July.
“We’re just excited for a fresh, new start,” said Denton coach Billy Miller. “We’ve spent the last six months building on what we’ve established and we’re excited about the future, and ready to attack this season.”
Elsewhere across the Denton area, Argyle will also begin practicing Monday morning.
The Eagles are coming off a 13-1 season in 2018, with their lone loss coming in the regional final to eventual Class 4A champion Waco La Vega. Argyle will have a chance to avenge that loss early in the season when they travel to La Vega in Week 2.
In Lake Dallas, the Falcons will try to build on a 7-4 campaign last year that included a trip to the postseason.
Lake Dallas will be led by Air Force commit Brandon Engel, who was the second-leading receiver in the Denton area in 2018. Although he lined up at wideout last season, Lake Dallas coach Michael Young told the Denton Record-Chronicle earlier this week the Falcons plan to also play Engel at quarterback.
“I think definitely at the beginning of the year we’re going to do some of both and see how that goes those first two games,” Young said. “Whatever gives us the best combination to be successful.”
Krum, Sanger, Aubrey, Pilot Point and Ponder round out local UIL teams starting practice Monday. The Bobcats, Indians and Lions will be under the direction of new head coaches this year.
Robby Clark will lead Krum, Rocky Smart takes over at Sanger and Mike Bowling is the new man in charge at Ponder. Krum and Sanger are each coming off 0-10 seasons in 2018.
With those new head coaches comes changes to practice times. In the past, Krum and Sanger have held midnight workouts on Monday, but both have opted against it this year.
Up the road in Pilot Point, with 15 returning starters, the Bearcats are hoping to capture their first playoff win since 2014. Pilot Point went 7-4 last year but lost to Wall in the first round.
The Bearcats are led by dual-threat quarterback Jacob Pitts, who is entering his third year as a starter.
“I think they’re excited,” said Pilot Point coach Danny David. “I think they believe they can have a really good year.”
Steve Gamel and Matt Brune contributed to this report.