High school football programs officially get under way this week, marking the start of the fall ball season.
While most programs work in passing leagues, weightlifting and conditioning throughout the summer, mandatory practices begin this week, with the start of the 2011-2012 season slated to begin the week of Aug. 26.
Coach Anthony Coronado said the Marana Tigers hit the field Monday, Aug. 1 for a week of practices that begin at 2 p.m. and end at 9 p.m.
The Tigers, who fall into a tough Division II region, will work to improve on last year’s 1-9 overall record.
The Tigers open the season against inner-district rival Mountain View High School.
Mountain View is also looking at a rebuilding season under new head coach Larry Branson.
Branson, known for his ability to turn around struggling programs, has worked most of the summer on improving conditioning and attitude for the Lions, who finished last season 3-7.
To start a new tradition at Mountain View, the Lions will hit the field in full pads for the first big practice on Aug. 4, starting at 12:01 a.m.
Ironwood Ridge will continue aiming for a state championship, building on last season’s 9-4 record, with the season ending in a 38-28 loss to Centennial in the state championships
Ironwood Ridge will travel to Canyon Del Oro on Aug. 26 for the first game of the season. The first home game will be against Marana on Sept. 2.
Canyon Del Oro also will be looking at building on last season’s success. CDO finished the 2010-2011 season undefeated in the regular season with a 13-1 record, losing in the 5A State Championships 41-34 to Saguaro High School.
In small-school competition, the Pusch Ridge Lions will work to build on last season’s 8-2 record. The Lions lost in the first round of the 2010-2011 playoffs.
Coach Bob Vance said the new season comes with a lot of unknowns and a relatively young squad.
With few returning players, Vance said they will use the first weeks of practice to assess talent, assign positions and see where the team stands as they prepare for the Aug. 27 opener against Peoria Accelerated.