The high school football preview is finally here, well, almost

Much like how a toddler acts when it’s the week before Christmas, around this time of the year, the football fanatics will come out of the wood work, calling the office, all asking the same question:

“When does the high school football preview come out? When does it come out? When? When?! When!”

The answer: Thursday, Aug 22.

That’s right folks, we here are giving you a full week before the season starts to brush up on your high school football knowledge and to read all about your favorite (or feared) teams.

Like past years, the Tribune preview gives readers a breakdown of each position for 36 schools in Trumbull, Mahoning, Portage, Ashtabula and Geauga counties. Each team’s preview also has a roster and an individual schedule so you know when you can go see your favorite team play – or go scout an opponent.

This year, the preview is called “The Fab Four.” While the cover highlights four of the premier players in the area (John Coleman of Warren G. Harding, Josh Krok of Niles, Chris Durkin of Ursuline and T.K. Fortson of Howland), it also breaks down four of the top players from each team as well as gives four facts about each team that even the most die hard fan might not know.

For those who prefer the game of football from many years ago, before 120-page football magazines were printed on an annual basis, we have something for you as well. Staff writer Mike McLain compiled nostalgic and memorable stories on the 1963 Niles state championship team, as well as the epic 1973 AAA state title game between Western Reserve and Cardinal Mooney.

Does all of this sound so exciting that you just can’t wait until Thursday? While I can’t put it on newsstands tomorrow, I can make it available a day earlier.

At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, the Tribune sports department will be joining Ryan Alessio and Marc Means from “Youngstown Sports Live” on Sports Radio 1240 WBBW AM for a high school football preview tailgate party at Panera Bread on Elm Road in Warren. The Tribune sports staff will be there while Ryan and Marc broadcast their show live from 3 to 6 p.m.

During this party, anyone can swing by Panera, buy the book for a $1 cheaper than normal sale price, ($4.95 regular, $3.95 at the party), and get a leg up on your friends when it comes to your 2013 dose of high school football knowledge.

This is the third year we have teamed with the guys from Sports Radio 1240 to give fans a chance to buy the book before anyone else can. We encourage all fans to stop out, buy a book, chat with us and get a yummy Panera treat while you’re there – I’m a big fan of the cherry pastry.

While it’s the third year we have held a tailgate party in Trumbull County, this year marks the first that we are taking the tour to Mahoning County. On Thursday, we will be setting up a second party at the Panera Bread on state Route 224 in Canfield. Here, the guys from 1240 will again broadcast their show live, give Mahoning County fans a chance to buy the book for a discounted price and again, more delicious Panera eats.

It feels like yesterday spring sports were ending and this time of year seemed so far away. Yet here it is. Football season has officially began.