It was bound to happen. I picked up the phone and fielded this question, “Who do you think our top football teams will be this year?”

I gave my usual noncommittal answer that highlighted multiple teams, noting it is July and the LHSAA’s title games won’t be played for 4½ months. It was the latest sign that the 2019-20 high school seasons are just around the corner.

As great as they are, the games tell only part of any high school team’s story. With some teams already at camp and others prepared to start practice in the days ahead, there is much to ponder.

So what will be or should be? I have a few outside-the-box thoughts.

For players

Be on time for classes and practices. The routines you set now can be a positive force for a lifetime.

Be responsible for your equipment and assignments. More good life lessons and that build good habits.

Be a good teammate and a coachable player. There may not be an I in team, but there is an M and E, which means it is up to "me" to do the right thing.

Be willing to accept a loss or a setback. Some of life’s most important lessons are learned through hardship. Good things don’t always come easy.

For coaches

Be a leader by example and through words. A social media post I saw today really drove this point home. A little boy reminds a man kneeling in front of him to choose his steps carefully. Chances are, a child will follow you.

Be dedicated to your craft. Think it is wrong to equate coaching to molding a piece of glassware or art? Your student-athletes may be tough on the outside, but many are just as delicate as a finely-crafted glass sculpture inside. The responsibility to shape them is a big one.

Be willing to adapt and try new things. Like most careers, coaching has its own comfort zone and routines. Those are great, but it never hurts to shake things up a little.

Be there for your players and staff through the ups and downs. Sometimes, all it takes are words of encouragement or a offer to help to turn someone’s life around.

For parents

Be accountable. That means making sure your child turns in all required forms, etc., on time, making sure they arrive on time and being present for team events required for parents.

Be respectful and part of the team. It is so easy to blame coaches, officials and other players when things don’t go well. Or if your child is not in the starring role you hoped for. Teamwork is just that … a team that works. Some days are better than others, but each one, like your child and the others on the team, is a gift to be cherished.

Be there. As in be there for your child at games and other times as much as possible. And when can’t be there, text positive thoughts or slip a note on the jersey in the equipment bag. After those games, talk about them.

Prep notables

Former Central High and Southern University football player Devon Gales is set to begin his first season as an assistant coach at Georgia-based Jefferson High four years after an injury suffered in a game against Georgia left him paralyzed.

Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart told the media he believes his players can learn from Gales perseverance. I could not agree more.

• Funeral arrangements for legendary Southern Lab football coach Carl Porter are still pending, with services tentatively set for Thursday. The Advocate will publish the information as soon as its available.

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