With temperatures again soaring into the triple digits, high school football season arrived for the Brownwood Lions and the rest of the area programs with Monday’s first practices of the season.

“It’s good to get them back on the field and back in organized workouts,” said Lions head football coach Steve Freeman. “The summer program’s been good to us, but it’s good to get back in a rhythm on both sides of the ball in every aspect and start chipping away at game preparation.”

Fortunately for most teams, Monday’s practices were conducted in the morning when temperatures were merely in the mid to upper 90s. With a forecasted high of 107 degrees Monday, heat is definitely an early concern for coaches.

With school not starting until Aug. 25, the Lions coaching staff is afforded the luxury of not having to cram as much into preseason practices as in years past. That, in turn, also allows an opportunity for the team to take a slight break from the heat.

“We’re making some adjustment to begin with,” Freeman said. “We’re in a hot and dry summer, and the beginning of school is several weeks away, so we’re trying to be smart about this. We’re two days on, then one day with an adjusted schedule that’s a little shorter, then we come back with two days on.

“We’ve always said if you’re going to play a long season you plan for a long season. We’re not leaving any stones unturned for sure with what we’re doing on the grass or with our conditioning that takes place in the weight room and turf room. You can get it all handled and maintain a freshness with the kids as well.”

Expectations are sky high for the Lions this season as they are preparing for their first in Class 3A since 1979. Brownwood - which opens the season Aug. 30 in San Antonio against Burnet - is one of the preseason favorites to compete for a state championship as it was ranked No. 3 in the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine preseason poll.

After competing in a stacked District 16-4A the past two years, shifting to District 2-3A might appear to be a bit of a breather. But Freeman and company realize they will have to maintain the same level of intensity they’ve demonstrated in the past to keep up in what is being called by many the toughest 3A district in the state.

“One objective we had going into and coming out of realignment was to have our thought process and mentality be absolutely as strong as what we’ve had to maintain in 16-4A, with expectations,” Freeman said. “The strength of District 2-3A is obvious, and 16-4A for a lot of folks was about who could survive. We want to take the urgency that presented, but also have an expectation and a confidence that ends up being about our performance.”

Teams are not allowed to practice in full pads until Friday, while other key preseason dates for the Lions include a Saturday, Aug 16 scrimmage at Midway and a Friday, Aug. 22 home scrimmage with San Angelo Central.

Between now and Friday, the Lions’ main focus will touching up on fundamentals, as well as the playbook.

“A lot of what we’ll be doing is teaching and re-teaching,” Freeman said. “We’re taking a close look at where we are. We move pretty quickly, though, and growing up in this system allows these guys to move faster.

“One thing about this period of practice time is it’s not necessarily opponent specific, but every ounce of what we do today is aimed to make a difference in the first ball game. You know the big picture’s out there, but you break it down day by day and today is an important day.”