The defending state champion East Thunderbirds gathered at East High on Wednesday for their first official practice of the new season.
Coach Jeff Trotter said he’s not running things at full intensity yet, but was encouraged by how the team looks.
“We’re actually not too far off where we want to be, at least for this point,” he said.
Trotter said he thinks his strategy of rotating players in and out of the game will help maintain the team’s momentum — the T-birds capped a 10-1 season last year with a 35-6 romp over the West Eagles in the Division I state championship game.
“We lost some really good talent, but the guys coming back (are) very experience because they have a lot of game time,” Trotter said.
Trotter is one of six returning head coaches in Anchorage. Brad Myers is the new coach at Eagle River, and Steve Odom takes over at Dimond.
East opens its season with a home game against Colony on Friday, Aug. 16. Three other Anchorage teams are also scheduled to host game that night -- Soldotna is at West, Palmer is at Chugiak and Juneau is at Service.
On Saturday, Aug. 17, Bartlett and South will meet at South High, Lathrop is at Eagle River and Kodiak is at Dimond.