Soccer teams hit the field Monday, the first official day of organized practice as determined by the Georgia High School Association.
Even more so than in past years, Columbia County's soccer teams have little time to waste.
"It's harder because the GHSA took away our conditioning week," Evans boys soccer coach Brian Killips said. "So there's a lot to cover between now and next Friday."
The boys soccer teams from Evans, Greenbrier, Lakeside and Aquinas will meet for the annual soccer jamboree at 5 p.m. Friday at Greenbrier High School. Six scrimmages, each lasting about 45 minutes, will start off the soccer season.
For the host team, Wolfpack boys soccer coach Chip Warren said the jamboree will serve as a glorified tryout for some key starting positions. The biggest item on the to-do list is to find a starter to replace last year's senior goalkeeper, Jonathan Shackelford.
"We've got four guys in goal, and we'll start a different guy in net each match," Warren said. "It's wide open."
The Wolfpack, who ended the season as the No. 3 ranked team in Class AAAA last year, lost nine seniors from the 2006 squad but still had 46 kids turn out for Monday's tryouts.
"We're younger than we were last year, but we still have talent," Greenbrier senior Brooks Duff said. "We'll use the jamboree to move everyone around, see where everyone fits and set up the starting line-up."
The girls soccer jamboree will take place a day later on Saturday at Greenbrier High School. The Lady Wolfpack might have the most work to do in the preseason after the team lost 11 seniors from last year's state playoff squad.
"Believe it or not we still return a good nucleus," Greenbrier girls soccer coach Alex Heider said. "I think they were overshadowed by a tremendous group of seniors last year. Now they want to prove how good they are."
Greenbrier, Evans, Lakeside and Harlem will compete in the girls soccer jamboree. In the final Class AAAA poll of 2006, the Greenbrier girls owned a No. 7 ranking and Lakeside's Lady Panthers weren't ranked but received votes.
The first games in Columbia County will take place Feb. 13 when Evans travels to Harlem and Lakeside plays host to Cedar Shoals.
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