Season starts: 10 off the top

Happy New Year!

On this rather soggy day, high schoolers across Massachusetts are back on the football field.

We’ll be checking in on the first day of action later on in the day, but for now here’s 10 off the top to celebrate the new season, featuring the best of the weekend, the week ahead and everything in between:

Said it once before, but it bears repeating now

10.) As a matter of housekeeping, an appeal to everyone who has graciously clicked on the site in our first week or so; please continue to send us your feedback. We love to hear what you have to say. And for the athletic directors out there, please remember to file your fall coaches contact information to us — and the rest of the year if you so please.

9.) As Massachusetts footballers return to practice, Pat Connaughton will not be one of them, as my cohort Brendan Hall had it here first.

8.) Before looking ahead, we must look back and old friend Dave Pevear of the Lowell Sun provided a fond look back at the Morris brothers of Ayer.

Early birds

7.) High school athletes in Maine had a head start on their New England counterparts, kicking off practice last Monday. We’ll have a full rundown of the Maine scene on Wednesday, when Gary Hawkins files our first Vacationland dispatch for our Five-State Roundup.

Out of season, not out of mind

6.) Interesting developments last week out of Rhode Island, where the RIIL Principals Committee on Athletics approved the establishment of a single statewide basketball tournament. One single champion will be crowned after a tournament featuring eight Division I entrants, five Division II teams and three Division III squad, following separate tournaments in each of the respective divisions. We’ll have more on this later in the week when correspondent Mike Scandura checks in with our first Five-State Roundup notebook from the Ocean State. Now, if we could only figure out a way to find one statewide divisional football champion for Massachusetts. One can dream.

5.) Did you know that Massachusetts leads the New England states with 88 established boys’ volleyball programs? Last among the six states? Maine, with a whopping zero. That may be changing soon, however, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Back in the saddle again

4.) Massachusetts isn’t the only state getting back to business, Connecticut schools were in the act last week. In case you missed it, take a look at correspondent Matt Stout’s preview for the Nutmeg State.

3.) While footballers across the state return to practice today, set your sights on Saturday when the bulk of the preseason scrimmage schedule begins. Among the highlights are Brockton visiting St. John’s (Shrewsbury), Everett facing Lynn English at the Manning Bowl, a tri-scrimmage du jour with BC High and Marshfield invading North Attleborough and Bridgewater-Raynham tussling with the Hawks at Xaverian.

2.) Later in the day we’ll have our first look at our preseason girls’ soccer Top 20. Will reigning Division I state champion Algonquin enter the season ranked No. 1 in their quest to repeat? Also, we’ll have the boys’ soccer Top 20 on tap tomorrow, so be on the look-out for that.

1.) Checking in with those aforementioned Xaverian Hawks, the returning Eastern Mass Division I Super Bowl champions. Head coach Charlie Stevenson said that even the rain didn’t dampen the spirits of his players this morning as they returned for conditioning drills.

“I think the kids even kind of liked it because it was nice and cool,” Stevenson said of the fall-like weather. “It sure beats those 90-degree days.”