Teams don't have to be coming off a good football season to be excited to get back on the field.
However, given the great seasons the Erie Tigers and Skyline Falcons had in 2017, there may be a little extra incentive for players to come out to the voluntary organized team activities that those squads will be starting up in April.
Sure, the weight room is a necessity for these athletes practically year-round, and honestly going to lift has always been a good way to get together and have some fun in a stress-free setting.
Soon, though, football coaches will be dusting off their whistles and hoping to get guys to brush up on a lot of the finer details of things before the summer sessions really kick in.
"There's definitely an excitement to go along with what we did last year, and we really didn't graduate a lot of seniors who played a lot," Erie head coach Chad Cooper said, "Our goal is to make it to that last game and to win that last game, but we also know area teams are going to be out to knock us down and that we have the target on our backs.
"We need to be ready for that expectation."
Erie represented Boulder County in the Class 3A state championship game last year and did so on the strength of a tremendous rush attack, good special teams and a swarming defense. All three phases of the game meshed in a playoff run that put EHS in the title game for the first time since 2008.
The work to get back starts now. Cooper reiterated that, for Erie, spring OTA's are voluntary and that players who participate in spring sports are in fact encouraged not to try and attend, but that the spring provides a good opportunity to get players genuinely thinking about the training that it takes to be improved.
Everything done prior to Memorial Day is non-contact by mandate of the Colorado High School Activities Association. But agility training, position-specific training, drills and 7-on-7 work are just some of the basics teams try to hit on during this time.
For those junior varsity players who want to show they are ready to take the next steps, spring is the time to shine.
"It's kind of become the norm," Cooper said. "A lot of our guys have been doing weights and strength and conditioning since January, and we're lucky to have classes built in for that during the school day. Our OTA's ... this is for those kids who don't really have anything else going on right now. You get them out there twice a week, once on Monday, once on Wednesday, once on offense and once on defense, just get some drills and your 7-on-7 stuff above that.
"You can't really build up right now (mentally) because you re-start during the summer when the whole group is together from that perspective. You don't implement the playbook ... it's just to get kids competing again."
Skyline head coach Mike Silva, whose team gave local fans one thrill ride after another as it marched to an 8-3 overall record and broke a long playoff drought, agreed that the summer is when players really grind the axe.
Silva also said, however, that there is a clear difference when you see teams take seriously this early period on the gridiron.
"We're definitely doing a little bit of stuff outside the weight room already, certainly agility and speed work, and we'll start throwing and stuff real soon," Silva said, noting that teams will be pressed a little more this year as the entire prep football schedule is moved up a week. "Junior varsity players, that's every team's lifeline and it's a different mentality when you jump up to that level. Repetition comes into play ... and the expectations are that you start your growth in the spring with simple stuff.
"When you talk about, 'Hey, go check out this team and how clean they are' — that's where that comes from. You see discipline, it comes from that."
The Falcons also have a number of players returning — head coach Mike Silva confirmed eight starters on each side of the ball — which means that, systematically there is familiarity. Like Erie, there is a overwhelming sense that something special can be accomplished if the proper work is put in.
Said Silva: "We have some talented guys coming back, and it's really just always a fun time in the spring and summer, get out in the sun and throw the football. It is fun, but it all plays an important role in what you look like come August."