Are you ready for some football?

The hot, humid temperatures lets us know one thing -- football season is near.

In 12 days, teams in the Georgia High School Association can officially start preparation for the 2011 season.

With a new season brings new expectations.

All the teams are chasing that ultimate goal of earning a trip to the Georgia Dome to play for a state title in late December.

For now, however, players will be sweating it out under the Georgia heat to prepare for the season, which opens Aug. 26. Today's players are pretty lucky when it comes to preseason practice.

With the earlier start of school, gone are the days of two-a-day practices (sometimes three if your coach was real old school).

This is a drastic change from the past. When the school year started later, many coaches would take their teams away for a week of camp.

They would argue that it took the team away from distractions with the only focus being on football. Beside improving on the field, coaches would argue that going away for camp more importantly built team unity.

For a week, it would be only coaches and players. No video games. No cellphones.

However, with the emergence of summer passing leagues and team camps, football has literally become a year-round sport. By the time official practice begins, players and coaches have now spent the entire summer together lifting weights and running plays.

It has been some 28 years since I went through my final season of high school football. There was great anticipation for our team after coming off a region championship and a playoff appearance.

However, the season took a dramatic turn four days into practice.

Our coach arrived at practice late.

Dressed in a pair of slacks and a dress shirt, he gathered us around.

And then he broke the news.

He had just resigned to take an assistant principal job at another school. The move was done so he could free up his Fridays to attend his son's high school football games during his senior season.

We would finish the year 5-5 without a playoff berth. Despite the roller coaster season on the field, there were still some memorable moments. We stayed close as a team, and were nearly inseparable off the field.

Now, it is time for the seniors in the class of 2012 to go through their final season. For them, it all starts in 12 days.

The memories that will be made are sure to last a lifetime.

Here's hoping that a team from the Southern Crescent breaks that 24-year title drought and brings home a champion. Morrow was the last area team to win a state title when the Mustangs defeated Effingham County 21-0 at Tara Stadium in 1987.

Hundreds of standout players and stellar teams have emerged from the area, but a state title has been elusive.

In 12 days, under the Georgia heat, preparation for a title chance begins.

Derrick Mahone covers sports for the Clayton News-Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com.