When the Carthage and Beckville High School football teams wake up on Monday morning it’s officially back to business.

Late spring and summer conditioning is one thing, two-a-day practices in the East Texas summer heat is another.

This season both the Bulldogs and Bearcats have big expectations for themselves, so they’ll be putting in extra work for what they hope is an all-time memorable season.

That starts Monday morning bright and early.

Both Carthage and Beckville are planning early morning practices for their two-a-days. For starters it helps get the players back in the routine of getting used to waking up early again. After Sunday night, the nights of staying up until the wee hours of the night playing Fortnite or binge watching shows on Netflix get put on hold.

Or at least I highly suggest they do. Speaking as a night owl who has trouble getting to work at 9 a.m. on deadline days, I’d recommend getting to bed at a respectable time. It’s tough, I know, especially when trying to watch a live edition of the Olympics nightly this past week.

I’m fortunate enough that I can ease my way into waking up the first few minutes of work; the football teams don’t have that luxury. I expect Scott Surratt and Cody Ross and their respective coaching staffs to be on their team from the get-go at practice.

For starters Carthage doesn’t need to look for the opportunity; they are the opportunity. The Bulldogs are the reigning back-to-back Conference 4A Division 2 state champions and are looking for their second three-peat under Surratt.

Don’t expect Surratt to let his team ride on their morals as he understands that the Bulldogs have a target on their back each and every time they take the field. That comes with the territory when you’ve lost one game in the last five years.

Surratt will be as fired up as ever come Monday morning, so I highly suggest to the players they get as much rest as possible this weekend because the journey back to Jerry World starts Monday morning.

On Beckville’s side, Ross is entering his third-year as head coach of the Bearcats, and the expectations and goals haven’t been higher.

Multiple media outlets have picked Beckville to win the District 9 2A D-I title this season. Seeing that Beckville hasn’t won a District title under Ross, it’s safe to assume he and his staff are going to be pushing the team to live up to the expectations. The Bearcats won’t be sneaking up on anyone this season.

Beckville has two of the top handful of players in the District in senior quarterback/linebacker Ryan Harris and sophomore running back/defensive back J’Koby Williams, but the offensive and defensive lines will be young.

A lot of work will need to be done in order for Beckville to reach their potential this season, and that will start on Monday morning at 7:30 a.m.

The expectations are high for the pair of Panola County football programs, so getting in to enjoy one final weekend before two-a-days start is vital.

I’d suggest staying away from as much physical activity as possible until Monday, because once Monday rolls around, the players are going to be begging for some leisure time. A chance to sleep in and stay up late goes away for the greater good. As phenomenal of a program as Surratt has built and Ross is aiming to establish, you just can’t put the ball on the tee and magically the team will be great.

Becoming great takes a lot of hard work, and the hardest of work starts with two-a-days. Games are where the great ones shine, but it’s practice that puts the players in a position to shine.

I sure hope the players take advantage of this final weekend because except for the occasional Saturday or Sunday, the days of sleeping in are over until December. That’s part of the commitment of what it will take for these teams to reach their maximum potential.

So I hope the kids enjoy this weekend and get those late Fortnite battles and Netflix show binges out of their system because once Monday morning comes around, those late nights will surely be missed.

It’s two-a-days time of the year everybody, and you know what happens after that? Actual football season, and that’s something everyone will enjoy.

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