As summer weather begins to set in across Summit County, it's time for the area football teams to return to the field. With the summer chorus of coaches' whistles, the crash of shoulder pads and barked play calls, all three local high school teams will be working toward one goal - a state title.
Of the three Summit County teams, only one will be striving to repeat as state champions - the South Summit Wildcats.
The North Summit Braves, who handed South Summit its only loss of the season last year, will be trying to improve even more after shocking many teams around the state in 2013.
The Park City Miners, entering their second year under head coach Mike Shepherd (who also coached the team previously in the late '90s and early 2000s), are looking to take a big step in the rebuilding process after finishing 3-8 last season.
North Summit coach Devin Smith said he can't wait to get his team back on the field this fall.
"Obviously, we lost some key guys, but we have a lot of guys back, too," he said. "We probably won't be able to sneak up on people like we did last year, and our kids know that. We've got to be humble but hungry. We want them to be ready for all our opponents."
But, clearly, most Summit County fans have their eyes on Friday, Oct. 10, when the Wildcats will travel to Coalville to take on the Braves, looking to avenge last season's 26-24 loss.
"South Summit's going to be the team to beat again," Smith said. "They're well coached and they have some great players. That's a long way down the road, but I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't a date on the schedule we're looking forward to.
"Our kids are excited for the challenge. As good of a rivalry as it is, our kids are friends with a lot of their kids and coach [Jerry] Parker and I get along, too."
"It's going to take a solid effort on our part to win," Parker said. "I think they'er going to be one of the better teams in our region. With them beating us last year, it's going to be a good one. It's on our calendar."
In other Summit County action, Park City starts its season by heading to Kamas to take on the Wildcats.
But Park City coach Mike Shepherd said he expects his team to be much more competitive this year.
"After last year, with everything that happened, it was an unpleasant experience based on where we started, what happened with coach [Aaron] Alford and the track [resurfacing] fiasco," he said. "There was never really any cohesion. We're really looking forward to being able to start as a normal team and make our way through the process that needs to happen. We're going to take a quantum leap this year."
"I think Park City will be better now that Coach Shepherd's got a year under his belt with those kids," Parker agreed. "It should be a very good game."
A more experienced roster and some help from a couple of the school's top basketball players should help the Miners drastically.
"Bosten Van Der Veur is coming out, Reid Marks is coming out and I've got a senior kid moving in from Montana, who, in addition to playing defensive back and receiver, was an all-region punter last year.
"But it's not just the fact that we have those kids coming out. We've got kids who have been in the program who are getting older and quite a bit better."
Schedule-wise, two teams - the Wildcats and Miners - will be on the road more often than not. Only the Braves have five home games this year, while South Summit plays five of its nine regular-season games on the road and Park City will travel for six of its 10 regular-season games.
All home games for Summit County schools will start at 7 p.m. this year. Park City and South Summit will play on Friday, Aug. 22, in Kamas to start the season, while North Summit plays host to Altamont in its first game.
Park City football schedule
Friday, Aug. 22 - at South Summit - 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 29 - vs. Preston (Idaho) - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 5 - at Judge Memorial - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 12 - at Union - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 19 - vs. Tooele - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 26 - at Uintah - 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 3 - vs. Ben Lomond - 7 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 9 - at Bear River - 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 15 - at Stansbury - 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 24 - vs. Juan Diego - 7 p.m.
South Summit football schedule
Friday, Aug. 22 - vs. Park City - 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 29 - at Morgan - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 5 - vs. American Leadership - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 12 - at Beaver - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 19 - at Summit Academy - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 26 - vs. Gunnison - 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 3 - at Layton Christian - 4 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 10 - at North Summit - 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 15 - vs. Millard - 7 p.m.
North Summit football schedule
Friday, Aug. 22 - vs. Altamont - 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 29 - at Duchesne - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 5 - at Gunnison - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 12 - vs. Summit Academy - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 19 - at Millard - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 26 - vs. South Sevier - 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 3 - at American Leadership - 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 10 - vs. South Summit - 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 15 - vs. Layton Christian - 7 p.m.