Forget training camp and summer practices. Bona fide football is back on the gridiron, and these games count.
Hawaii technically kicked off competition on August 9 and Alaska gets started with a full-fledged Week 1 schedule on August 16. Teams in both Hawaii and Alaska are now fully underway with their seasons, and there's no holding back the football floodgates.
The season start in Alaska is a notable one, as it serves as the true curtain raiser for the 2013 campaign.
For Alaska, there's plenty of change on the horizon, including a major league and division shift for the Fairbanks (Ala.) North Pole High Patriots. The move from the Patriots, who dropped from the state's large schools division to a medium schools league, underscores just how big a deal football is in Alaska; a high school with 700 students will have 100 players turning out for the squad.
In an article by Stevens previewing the Alaskan season, a general lack of decent practice facilities and legacy players is highlighted, as only nine native Alaskans have ever reached the NFL.
Yet the state also boasts what has to be the nation's most picturesque football facility -- blue turf Cathy Parker Field along the water in Barrow, which you can see above (and check out more fantastic photos here) -- and players are finding ways to continue competing in college even though there are no Alaska collegiate football programs.
All of that makes for an exciting season ahead, and a firm acknowledgment that the 2013 season has now begun in truth. There's no turning back.
If you're hoping to whet your prep football appetite, check out these highlights from one of the most notable games in the Aloha state during the first official games of 2013 at any level, the Father Bray Classic at Aloha Stadium between Iolani (Hi.) High and Kalani (Hi.) High. The game may have been a bit of a blowout, but it's sure good to see football hits that count again, isn't it?