One day down.
They hope there are many, many more days to come.
Maybe up to, and including, Thanksgiving weekend.
Two local prep football teams — Lake City and Reed City — were just a step away from the pinnacle last fall before both lost in the state semifinals.
Meanwhile, in Cadillac, there are plans to turn around a sub-par season last year and build some momentum.
High school football teams officially took to the practice fields for the first time Monday across the state. They’ve got about two and a half weeks to get ready for Week 1, which commences on Aug. 23.
In Reed City, they were chomping at the bit to get going.
The Coyotes finished 11-2 last year and lost in the MHSAA Division 5 state semifinals to Saginaw Swan Valley.
With most of that team returning and few holes to fill, Reed City is ready to go.
“I think we’ve been anticipating playing again ever since that last painful loss over in Greenville,” Reed City senior Stephen Shewan said. “We’ve been waiting all year.”
Veteran Coyote coach Monty Price put his team through the paces Monday morning and end-of-practice left them gassed but Shewan said that pays off in the end.
“Practice and conditioning are rough so you’ve really got to come together as a team and encourage each other,” he said. “That’s what gets you through is your teammates.”
Senior quarterback/defensive back Jackson Price was pumped to get started.
“I’ve never been more excited in my life I don’t think,” he said. “I’m so anxious to get out there and see what we’re made of because I think this is going to be the best team Reed City has ever seen.”
That starts right off the bat as Reed City hosts Montague in Week 1 in one of the biggest games around. The Wildcats are coming off a Division 6 regional title game loss to powerhouse Ithaca but handled the Coyotes in Week 1 last year.
“I love having big games early in the season, especially in the opener because it gives us something to look forward to,” Jackson Price said. “You have more practices in the summer to work hard and we’re determined to do our best to make sure we get that first win.”
Lake City didn’t taste defeat for the first time last year until losing to eventual state champion Pewamo-Westphalia in the state semifinals.
The Trojans finished 12-1 in 2017 and they plan to use that experience in 2018.
“It’s definitely something to work off,” senior lineman Michael Grieb said. “We’ve got to push ourselves…we were one game away (from Ford Field) last year.”
Lake City began its season at 12:01 a.m. Monday with its “Family Circle” and dedicated it to head coach Kyle Smith and his daughter Harper.
Harper Smith, 4, is in intensive care at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids battling a severe infection. The community has rallied behind the Smith family with a lot of help and tons of praying.
“It was nice to see the whole community come together for Coach Smith and his family,” senior lineman Nate Knapp said. “We’re all behind him and we support him.
“It’s really cool to see everyone come together and he deserves that.”
Cadillac spent the first of three nights at Camp Torenta before coming into town Monday morning for its first two-a-day.
“It’s exciting since its the last year for me,” senior lineman Ethan Pritchard said. “I am glad to see all the guys here and we had more than we thought we would initially.
“I’m happy to have our core group of seniors together.”
The Vikings struggled last year but learned some lessons and plan to have a better 2018.
“Our leadership had to improve and we’ve taken the right steps there,” senior lineman Ryan Cox said. “Overall, the brotherhood needs to get stronger and the culture needed to get better.
“I think we’ve taken measures to improve that.”