EAST TAWAS – According to the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA), summer is officially over. Fall high school sports officially begin practice this week and soccer teams may even begin playing in their first contests by the end of the week. 

Two of the county’s soccer teams open their respective seasons on Friday, as Tawas Area hosts a strong Swan Valley squad and Oscoda heads to Ogemaw Heights. That gives teams a grand total of four practices before their first games. 

“It’s a little too quick for me, but it’s OK,” longtime Tawas head coach Ken Cook said. “I would rather have it next week but we’ll start right up with a tough first game the first week. We haven’t done much in the off-season, but we do have a young crew coming in from the recreation program so a bunch of them played in the spring. Some of them have a jump start at least.” 

The Braves finished 7-13-3 overall last year and also play road games at Gladwin on Tuesday and at Pinconning on Friday, Aug. 20. 

“Monday and Tuesday we were going to do some drills and conditioning, both shooting and going over some basics and Wednesday and Thursday we will get into some game oriented things with some heftier drills,” Cook said. “Short week before the first game, we will go into the game learning basically.” 

Oscoda finished last season 10-10 overall and shared the North Star League with Alcona with a 5-1 league mark. After Friday’s game in Ogemaw, the Owls head to Pinconning on Monday and have their home opener on Wednesday against Pinconning. 

Also of note is that for the first time this fall, soccer will seed its district in an attempt to have the best two teams meet in the district finals. 

“This is a result of a lot of discussion so that districts should be seeded so that the superior teams don’t play each other right away, though in the end I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference, at least in how our district shakes out,” Cook said. “I think the dominant teams are still going to come out on top.” 

Teams will be given a ranking based on their win-loss record, their opponents win-loss record and their opponents-opponents’ win-loss record. Coaches are required to submit their game results to the MHSAA website in order to receive a ranking. 

“It’s complicated but it’s all computerized,” Cook said. “It takes 25 percent of our winning-percentage 50 percent of our opponents and 25 percent of our opponents-opponents. It’s just up to us coaches to put the scores in and it falls on them to make sure that they’re accurate. If you get seeded in a spot that you don’t belong because the results aren’t right for a few games, that’s your own fault. I don’t know how much of a difference it’s all going to make, the question is how good are the coaches going to keep up on it?”