With August upon us, football season is within sight.
Two-a-day practices for Ohio high schools begin Aug. 1 with opening night set for Aug. 26.
Of course, Ohio State fans are thinking big as always, while Browns fans / well, who knows what they're thinking given the fact Cleveland's title drought came to an end in June.
I think my inner fan might shed some light on the subject, though moving him past summer might be an almost futile exercise /
Journalist Michael: Still having fun, I see? Since when do you believe the Indians are a contender?
Fan Mike: Since we've still got first place heading into August. I haven't felt this good about the Tribe since the late 1990s.
JM: You do realize LeBron James isn't going to pinch hit in the ninth inning, right?
FM: Yes, I know. But keep in mind, I thought the Indians would be a .500 at best team this year. If they play .500 ball the rest of the way, they'll finish around 90 wins.
JM: As I'm sure you're aware, summer is going to be over soon.
FM: I know, so hopefully LeBron and JR will have signed by then.
JM: Wow, you're that resistant to actually starting football season? You've changed over the last couple of years.
FM: I still look forward to Fridays and Saturdays. It's Sundays that are causing me to lose my hair.
JM: So you're saying the Browns are the reason I should start shaving my head more often?
FM: You're complaining? It's a good look for you.
FM: What I'm saying is, after what the Cavs did and what the Indians are doing, the Browns seem like a total buzzkill at this point. Can't you just let me bask in the glory of Cleveland actually winning a bit longer?
JM: Sounds like you've resigned yourself to another long season for the Browns. That's not exactly an unwise thing.
FM: I'll say this. Hue Jackson was the guy I wanted as Browns coach. I really like Corey Coleman a lot and I'm glad the Browns didn't waste their first-round pick on Jared Goff or Carson Wentz.
JM: All valid points. But?
FM: But the simple fact is, this isn't going to be a one-year rebuild. The Browns' top offensive player is still Joe Thomas, who I love, but when's the last time he scored a touchdown? Josh Gordon might be one of the most gifted receivers in the league, but he's a failed drug test away from a lifetime NFL ban.
JM: These also are all valid points. What's your take on Robert Griffin III?
FM: Low risk, potential high reward. If coach Jackson can prove to be the "quarterback whisperer" Griffin could revive his career.
JM: And if not?
FM: If not, I think next year's quarterback draft class will be stronger.
JM: You're not thinking JT Barrett already?
FM: Why not?
JM: Because Barrett to me seems like a great college quarterback with a lot of mobility. As has been shown by RG III, Tim Tebow and Troy Smith, the NFL eats those kind of quarterbacks alive. If he stays healthy, Barrett can lead Ohio State back to the Big Ten title. Beyond that, nothing is certain.
FM: So you're saying the Browns going 4-12 won't even benefit them that much?
JM: 4-12? You are pessimistic. Then again, that's my prediction too.
FM: Please tell me Friday nights will be more fun.
JM: I'm certain they will be, thought it would be almost impossible to duplicate last year. It's not too often one local school reaches the state semifinal, let alone two in one year.
FM: I'm guessing you're looking for even more this year from Stow-Munroe Falls and Hudson?
JM: Yes and no. Stow has a lot coming back and has the best lineman I've seen in years in Mike Miranda, who verbally committed to Penn State. But the Bulldogs have a huge question to answer: How the heck do you replace the best running back at Stow since Larry Csonka?
FM: Jayson Gobble was a lot of fun to watch. But what about Hudson?
JM: The Explorers are in a unique position. It's rare that the phrase "interim head coach" is used at the high school level. I have no doubt Jeff Gough is up to the job of keeping Hudson strong. Three state semifinals in as many years strong? That's a big question.
FM: So you're not picking either as your best team this year?
JM: As we speak, Stow and Hudson (and Nordonia and Aurora) all look like playoff teams. Given who they've got back, however, Woodridge is probably in the best position to make noise.
FM: Seems like it has been good to be a "Bulldog" the last few years. Who do you think is the area's best player?
JM: Miranda is a beast, but as a rule, offensive linemen hate publicity. We've got two excellent quarterbacks in Woodridge Mason Lydic (who's still only a junior) and Stow's Kyle Vantrease.
JM: But if I look at who means the most to his team and last year's numbers, the answer is simple: Nordonia running back Anthony Perrine.
FM: Isn't he going to wrestle at the next level?
JM: Yes, he's verbally committed to Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. That said, I expect a lot of "Student body left" and "Student body right" from the Knights this year.
FM: Good football on Fridays and Saturdays gives me a reason to sleep on Sundays. Preferably until 8 p.m.