A familiar and welcome sight greeted this writer as I made my way into Van Alstyne Athletic Director Mikeal Miller’s office on a Wednesday afternoon. There, perched in front of his computer, Miller and assistant coach Jack Wylie go over Panther offensive formations, already on their game just three days into the new season.

Panther football is back.

Monday marked the first day student-athletes could report for Fall sports. Van Alstyne football opened its doors early Monday morning and is running practices all week from 7:30 a.m. to noon. That’s a fairly short window considering the annual Blue-White scrimmage is set for 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Miller said it’s been a solid start to the year thus far.

"It’s been good; we’ve had nice weather, and the kids have responded well," he said. "It’s been up-tempo."

As for those kids, well, there are a few more of them this year. Miller reported that 82 athletes have turned out for football this year.

"We’ve got really good numbers for us being a 3A school," said Miller.

Among those numbers are 22 returning varsity players from last year’s team, including eight offensive starters and eight defensive starters. That’s good news for Panther fans this season.

In addition to the Blue-White scrimmage on Saturday, there are two additional scrimmages in the coming weeks. First up is a home scrimmage with Gunter on Aug. 15 with the time to be announced. Following that is an Aug. 21 scrimmage against Melissa with location and time to be announced.

Van Alstyne is in District 5-3A this year following UIL reclassification. The district includes Whitesboro, Pilot Point, Pottsboro, Farmersville and Callisburg. The Panthers open the season on the road at Quinlan Ford on Aug. 29 and the district season on the road at Whitesboro on Oct. 10.