Tuesday, May 1: A date circled on many high school football coaches' calendars, and at least one college coaching staff's, too. It marks the start of practices for Sac-Joaquin Section programs.
After a six-month hibernation, coaches from Merced to Manteca and the West Side into the Mother Lode will step into the sun with whistles pinned between pursed lips.
"I'm excited," said Central Catholic coach Roger Canepa, who balances every serious thought with a joke. "I want to get out there and start moving again, so I can lose some weight."
For two of Modesto's public schools, these first practices symbolize a changing of the guard, a time to sort out new roles and responsibilities.
Gregori and Downey will feature new quarterbacks as they move into the Central California Athletic League this fall.
Jaguars coach Jason McCoy will put the playbook in Marcello Longstreth's hands.
A do-it-all athlete last fall, Longstreth was named the Modesto Metro Conference's Special Teams Player of the Year and appointed to the all-league second team for both offense and defense.
He was also selected to The All-District large-school football team as a utility player.
This fall, Longstreth will slide under center, where he replaces All-District Player of the Year Bobby Avina, who guided Gregori to an undefeated regular season, its first conference title and home playoff win.
For the third year in a row, Downey's "Air Raid" passing attack will feature someone new at the controls. Bryce Peterson is moving into a jack-of-all-trades role one year after throwing for 2,808 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Coach Jeremy Plaa said Peterson will play running back, wide receiver and defensive back. He has yet to settle on a successor; the QB battle is "wide open," he said.
This much is true: Nothing will be settled on Tuesday, or the first few weeks of the live period. With the spring postseason still ahead, many coaches don't expect to have full squads for at least another week.
McCoy said Gregori will launch into the 2018 season next Monday, May 4, while Downey will wait until after the MMC track and field championships and the baseball program's makeup games. In Sonora, coach Bryan Craig is waiting on track, baseball and swimming.
Canepa, meanwhile, won't wait a second more.
He expects 20 to 30 players on Tuesday.
"We're all excited because we get to start. The problem we have is everyone is still playing sports," he said. "We might have 20 to 30 players when we should have 70.
"At least we get to put our cleats on and think football. Other schools have AAU or an athletic period, so it feels like they've been playing all year long. We start when we start, and end when we end."
The Fresno State coaching staff will welcome the Raiders back.
Canepa said the Bulldog staff will be on campus, presumably to scout Dawaiian McNeely, D'angelo Bellamy, Justin Traina, Eric Soares, Nic Sani, and others.
"They come to look at one kid and find out there's a couple others here," Canepa said. "They like watching them run and do drills. They want to see their hips move and how they react to the ball."