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In The Zone

It's that time again, folks.

Time again for high school football. As I write this, we're hours away from the first preseason game between Lely and Lehigh and I'm fired up.

Covering practices is fun, but here is where you get the first glimpse of what the local teams really have.

The slate is full tomorrow night, including Naples hosting Hialeah. I was at the Golden Eagles' practice earlier today, and the boys had their game faces on.

Coach Bill Kramer always has his game face on, and I could tell he was ready to get this season under way.

"This is the beginning of the season as far as we're concerned," Kramer said. "They're going to have officials, the scoreboard's turned on and they're going to have an ambulance in the end zone. This is real football. Sure, it's a Classic, but it's a football game. What I want to see is our guys playing really fast with tremendous intensity and enthusiasm and executing our offense, defense and special teams."

Naples is fresh off an 11-2 season in which they advanced to the regional final. With 31 seniors back this season, they're hoping to go even deeper into the playoffs.

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how Naples and Immokalee look in their respective preseason games as both seem to be the preseason favorites in the district (no shocker there, although Golden Gate and Lely both should be strong). Both programs have a lot of tradition and the Indians are coming off an undefeated 10-0 year. However, the Golden Eagles return many of their key players, while Immokalee lost several of theirs. Don't count out coach John Weber's team, though, as they still have plenty of talent, especially on offense.

RUSH COOKS UP TWO-WAY PLAN: As I've been putting together preseason previews in various sports, you run into some interesting story lines. Seacrest Country Day's Rush Cook is going to be a two-sport athlete. No real news value there, right? But Cook is doing it in the same season. Two years ago, Cook was on the Stingrays' golf team. Last year, he was on the soccer team. This year, he's doing both. He's made golf his first priority, but asked coach Scott Yates if he could play soccer on days with no golf matches. Yates said yes, and Cook is pulling the double duty. Good news for fans of the Stingrays golf and soccer teams, but bad news for whoever is doing Rush's laundry.

That's all for now. I plan to blog more frequently once the seasons officially start. Stay in the zone, everyone!

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