After nearly nine months of waiting and a summer of conditioning, local high school football players returned to the gridiron Wednesday for the first day of practice with their coaches.
Illinois High School Association rules allowed teams to start practice Wednesday with helmets only. On Friday they can add shoulder pads and then full pads on Tuesday.
"Lookin' to be better this upcoming year," said Belleville East football coach Tim Funk, who is starting his 11th season at East. "We play a lot of good teams. Southwestern Conference is very strong."
Teams had a real break Wednesday as they practiced in weather that barely hit the mid-70s, with more mild weather expected through the weekend.
Throughout the season, turn to bnd.com as your best source for high school football coverage, photos and videos.