High school football practice kicks off Friday for the Hammond Skyhawks who will enter the year as the defending two-time SCISA 3A state champion.
But with November so far away, head coach Erik Kimrey will go back to the basics in the preseason with numerous building blocks along the way before the team kicks off the year with a nationally televised game against Southern Columbia out of Pennsylvania.
Hammond has one other game against an out-of-state opponent, a September 6 game at Charlotte Country Day. But the rest of the opponents will be in the SCISA ranks and they will be teams looking to knock Hammond off its lofty perch as the dominant team in the state.
"Our attitude going into the preseason is to keep focused," said Hammond receiver Andre Wilson.
"Everyone speaks highly of us. But we're still going to give it our all and compete for a state championship."
Hammond quarterback Jackson Muschamp, who just picked up his first Power 5 offer from Boston College, enters his second season as the starter.
"We definitely have a target on our back coming off a state championship last year," Muschamp said.
"It'd be awesome if we could win it again this year. That's always our goal going into a year. Any team's goal is to go out and win a state championship. For our team, if we could go out with a state championship, that'd be really special. That's what we're working for and hopefully it happens."
Last year's victory over First Baptist marked Hammond's 16th state championship in football and the 10th for Kimrey.