Mt. Ararat linemen partake in a positioning drill on the first day of preseason on Monday at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

TOPSHAM — Frank True was candid when talking about the stunt in development for his football program after the way things went last season.

“I think last year set us all back,” said the Mt. Ararat head football coach. “Any momentum we had from 2019 (when Mt. Ararat won the 8-man state title) is gone, now we want to get back to that level.”

After the 2020 fall sports season was limited to just six weeks with fewer games and several protocols to follow, 2021 fall sports are slated to return to normal scheduling and a normal postseason, both of which were missing last year. It’s clear that coaches and players are already in competition mode.

“It’s day one, but we’re already looking for that perfect combination of eight players to put on the field and be competitive,” said True, who said he had 24 players present on the first day of the preseason with “a couple of players missing”.

Mt. Ararat is is a co-op footballl program with Hyde School in Bath this season. The Eagles have just two players from Hyde, according to athletic director Geoff Godo.

Megan Reed of Mt. Ararat concentrates as she settles a pass during Monday’s first practice of the season at Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

While it was the first day of tackle football in Maine for the first time since November of 2019, all other high school sports got underway on Monday as well.

“It’s exciting, we didn’t get to have a preseason at all last year so it’s honestly great,” said Mt. Ararat senior field hockey player Megan Reed after Monday’s opening practice.

The feeling was mutual across the river in Brunswick. At the high school, football held a morning session for linemen only. Field hockey and girls soccer took up the rest of the practice fields on campus, while the boys’ soccer team practiced at Crimmins Field off Baribeau Road in Brunswick.

“This week will consist of a lot of conditioning, something we didn’t really have the chance to do last season,” said Brunswick girls soccer head coach Martyn Davison, who is entering his 22nd year leading the program.

According to Davison, the team lost three starters along with its graduating seniors. All in all, it adds up to seven open starting roles for the Dragons.

“I can already tell that we’re going to be a completely different team compared to seasons past,” Davison said. “We’re going to play a lot differently and use the strengths that we have to our advantage.”

Brunswick head football coach Dan Cooper, left, coaches his linemen during Monday’s linemen only practice on the first day of the preseason at Brunswick High School. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

Added senior Logan Brown: “We have players ready to step up already on the first day.”

With no preseason last year and instead just a week-long period of practice before games began in late September, coaches hope to take advantage of the extra time they have before games begin in early September.

“It’s nice, I’ll be able to see what I have and how players react to different situations, we have time to do stuff like that,” Mt. Ararat boys soccer coach Jack Rioux said.

The setting was similar at Mt. Ararat’s field hockey practice.

“We worked on in-game situations and limiting our turnovers, which is a big team goal that we have this season,” said Reed, who is slated to start for the Eagles on defense. “Coach (Krista Chase) also does a great job of emphasizing team bonding in the first few days, which is important to us.”

Something that coaches seem to be doing less of, however, is the two-a-day sessions until the school year begins.

“We’re only going to have a few this week,” Rioux said. “We want to get where we need to be without overworking the guys.”

With Mt. Ararat hoping to unveil its new turf field in time for the season, all Mt. Ararat teams are hoping to use the facility as its home field. With that in mind, Chase is having her team practice at the Topsham Indoor Sports Complex to become accustomed to the turf.

“It’ll be a big change for everyone when it does happen,” she said.

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