Summer vacation is over. There are no more trips to the coast.

No more lazy days in the park. No more time for summer blockbuster movies.

Tomorrow volleyball season begins for area teams, as does football practice for the majority of 5A schools in Central Texas.

And with it, is an end to the lazy days of summer — at least for sports writers, area coaches and athletes.

Once the season begins, there will be plenty of things to hold people's interest, though.

In District 8-5A volleyball, it is anyone's season to jump up and make the playoffs.

Outside of Waco Midway, there might not be a dominant team and that means everyone still has a bit of hope.

If Midway and maybe even Copperas Cove makes their usual playoff bids then that leaves two spots available for Belton, Ellison, Harker Heights, Killeen, Shoemaker and Temple.

Honestly, not one team is really going to be favored over the other. Only Belton and Shoemaker did not have a legitimate shot at the playoffs last season.

Temple and Ellison had a play-in game for the playoffs. A late-season swoon kept Harker Heights out and Killeen once again snuck into the playoffs.

And Belton is only one season — and Grace Weaver, who is now at Tulane — removed from a share of a district title.

The season is anyone's to climb up and take.

That isn't a too far cry from the shape of the 8-5A football season, either.

Cove lost Orlando Thomas and Brandon Hamilton. But, you can never count the Dawgs out of the playoffs.

They should be there again behind what will be just the latest 1,000-yard running backs, Jack Welch seems to plug in every year.

Waco Midway will be Waco Midway. But, after that, again, almost every team has a legitimate shot at making the playoffs.

Belton returns its quarterback, Peter Shelburne, and two dynamic playmakers in Texas-commit Durham Smythe and wide receiver Derick Bates. Harker Heights has the best center prospect in the country in Texas-commit Darius James and an up-and-coming running back in Marcus Anderson II.

Temple made huge strides under head coach Mike Spradlin in his first year with the Wildcats last season.

With players like Zach Allen and Freddie Johnson, there is no reason to think this season won't be even better for Temple.

That's five teams with a chance for four slots and still no one can discount Shoemaker and the strides it made last season under Channon Hall.

It is hard to argue that a team that went 1-9 a year ago has a chance at the playoffs, but the Grey Wolves do as long as Baylor-commit Johnny Jefferson remains healthy and is getting carries out of the wildcat formation.

Meanwhile, Killeen has been a playoff regular under Sam Jones as a 4A team and it usually had the upper hand on Ellison, Harker Heights and Shoemaker in recent years.

To rule it out of the playoff chase just because it is moving up a classification would be foolish, especially with quarterback Garrett Gaskamp getting another year of experience.

Coming off an 0-10 campaign it is harder to make a case for Ellison than even Shoemaker. But, nothing is impossible. The Eagles do have talent, like running back Isiah Cowan.

And on Game Day, everyone has a chance — no matter how small it is.

There is not anytime to be lazy, though.

No time to take in an extra movie.

No time for a walk in the park. Simply put, it is time to get back to work.

Contact Nick Talbot at or (254) 501-7569

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