Believe it or not, high school football is almost back!
Fall practice begins on Monday July 30th. The season opens on August 24th and Bay County foes Rutherford and Arnold don't meet until week seven, but they're ready to renew their rivalry now.
The Rams and Marlins got the first taste of each other at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes team camp in Marianna last week. They joined five other teams, sharing the field for 30 minute sessions for three days.
There's mutual respect between the two programs, but they each want to beat each other badly next season.
"Even if it's 30 minutes in July, you get a little bit more spunk out of the young men when it's an in county school you're going up against," Rutherford head coach Loren Tillman said.
"Even in this setting, it adds to the excitement of what you're doing," Arnold head coach Josh Wright added. "What ends up happening is the guys who aren't in make more noise than the guys that are in! So that just agitates and aggravates and gets it keyed up. At any rate, everybody kept their cool and played hard, and they're ready to get together week seven and settle those things on the field."
Ultimately, the coaches respect each other greatly as well.
"We want to see Rutherford play well and have a great season, and they feel the same about us," Wright said.
"Me and Coach Wright go way back," Tillman echoed. "He's a high character man and I like that. I like coaching against teams that have character coming from their head coach and their staff. Kids are going to be kids. They're gonna make a mistake here or there, but when the other coach is addressing it, we respect that."
Rutherford and Arnold play battle at Gavlak on October 5th, but they each open the season on August 24th with the Rams hosting North Bay Haven and the Marlins traveling to South Walton.