The players change, but the excitement doesn't for fans of high school football as another season gets set to begin.
There were six coaching changes at area schools in what was arguably the wildest off-season ever around here. But that only heightens the anticipation for what's ahead when teams finally take the field in front of cheering crowds the weekend of Aug. 24-25.
The excitement and anticipation started building even more Wednesday morning as high schools were able to officially begin practicing around the state. Optimism also reigns as teams with dreams ranging from reaching Champaign to winning a conference title to getting a program turned around can start to see them become a reality.
The new coaching faces range from the June arrival of Larry Calhoun from Texas to take over at Elk Grove to Lou Sponsel taking over where he played at and has coached at Fremd. Eric Ilich looks to get things rolling at Hoffman Estates after helping Bartlett become a perennial playoff qualifier and Brandon New tries to transfer the success he had at now-shuttered state power Driscoll to St. Viator.
And two coaches who know a little bit about putting together successful programs will be trying to do the same thing a few miles apart after brief hiatuses as head coaches. Wheeling's Brent Pearlman won three state titles at Prospect and Buffalo Grove's Mike DiMatteo established a foundation at Lake Zurich and took Hinsdale Central to a state championship game.
How will those transitions go against programs which already have established systems and expectations? What teams and players will emerge as surprises during a nine-game schedule that leaves little margin for error?
Those are just a few of the questions high school football fans can look forward to answering soon.