The wait is nearly over for high school football players and coaches.

The wait is nearly over for high school football players and coaches.

It started with the sometimes monotonous days of weight-room work, which began for many the moment last season ended.

The past few weeks have included activities such as team camps and 7-on-7 passing tournaments, with a few glimpses of the playbook thrown in.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 1, it finally will start to feel like football again.

For Grove City coach Matt Jordan, that first day of official coaching allowed by the OHSAA provides an enjoyable opportunity to see his players bond.

It also doesn't hurt that it's a chance for relationships between some players and coaches to get a fresh start.

"You no longer get any excuses from anybody," Jordan said, laughing. "Seriously, it's fun to finally get to put the pads on. You've been in the weight room since December, so it's fun watching everyone run around in helmets. You know it's football season, and there's this wonderful excitement in the air. There's something about that adrenaline that comes."

According to the OHSAA, the dates teams are allowed to scrimmage this year are Aug. 9-20. Although games can be played as early as Aug. 22, most teams start their season Aug. 26 or 27.

Many teams in central Ohio won't have their first scrimmage until Aug. 12, which means they have 11 days to put plays in motion before their first contact against another team.

Putting in drills over the first couple days of practice can be an important exercise in setting the pace for the coming months as well as in preparing for scrimmages.

"You try to establish everyday types of drills and try to mix them up," Jordan said. "We do certain things day one, certain things day two and get a rotation going. You're always evaluating talent and you definitely want to laterally be going forward to see who looks good.

"In football, you already have a pretty good idea who your guys are Aug. 1, so you're also looking at team cohesiveness. Do you have some leaders who are ready to step up? You start initially with your base offense and base defense in the early days and then do repeat and review to make sure you haven't moved too fast. When you get to pads, it all changes."

Teams from the City League sometimes have obstacles, particularly early on, because many of the players who come out for football as freshmen are competing in the sport on a team for the first time.

For those taking over a program for the first time such as Brookhaven's Trevor White, that factor as well as figuring out how to install a new system can make for some complicated moments of preparation even before the first day of official coaching.

"Especially with a new program, a big thing early on is setting the tone," White said. "You want to be getting everybody on the same page, and what we've been debating is how much of the offense and defense do we put in. Do we just throw it at them or do we take it step by step?

"We'll have some kids that played (youth) football but some who have never played the sport before. You've always got to walk a line of bringing kids along but not holding the veterans back, and especially with a new program, it's important that you're really getting to know the team. I'm really excited to learn who my team is."

One of the key aspects of the first days of official coaching, according to Olentangy Liberty coach Steve Hale, is getting players' technical reactions back on track.

"You're working a lot on technique, stance and starts, quickness and a lot of ball skills," Hale said. "What responsibilities do I have? There are a lot of drills where we try to put kids in situations where they can learn. I think it's just a matter of being organized and knowing what schemes we have.

"Obviously everybody gets a brand new start. There's an excitement and an anticipation that you'll have a great season. That first time on the practice field is like being reborn each year."