This is the magical day for coaches and athletes involved in fall sports. Aug. 12 is the official day high schools in Illinois can start practicing for their upcoming seasons.
Golfers just need a few days. They can swing back into action with interscholastic meets next Monday, Aug. 17. Football will be the latest to kick off its season, setting the ball down for the first time against an opponent on Aug. 28.
I always marvel at the wide array of dates schools picks for homecomings in football. A few are as early as Sept. 11 (how can anyone celebrate that day?), which is the third week of the season, and one area homecoming will take place on Oct. 23, which marks the completion of the nine-game regular season.
That late date was selected by Villa Grove, in part, because there are fewer conflicts with the school's other fall sports at that time. For instance, the volleyball team is in a day-long tournament at Danville the day following the Friday, Sept. 25 home game, and the golf team is in a day-long invitational at Farmer City the day after the Friday, Sept. 11 home football game.
Many schools tradionally reserve their final home date as Senior Night, but Villa Grove has reversed course. Senior Night festivities will take place the night of the Blue Devils' home opener, on Sept. 4 against Bismarck-Henning.
In all, there will be at least one homecoming going on an an area school for seven successive weeks, starting with the Sept. 11 date. A complete list will be included in The News-Gazette's prep football supplement, which will be published with the Aug. 27 editions.