Whistles filled the air at athletic fields from Ludington to Scottville and beyond as the high school sports season got underway.

The first practices for football were Monday, as were the first practices for soccer, cross country, girls golf and boys tennis. Volleyball won’t start until Wednesday.

In football, the first three days are spent in helmets and no pads with limited contact. The contact can’t start until after the third day of practice. The MHSAA instituted changes where no more than 6 hours of full-pad collisions in practice per week in the preseason, and there can’t be more than 30 minutes of collision contact during the season.

Given the numbers situation for both Ludington and Mason County Central in football, neither coach saw that as something that would be detrimental to their respective program.

“We’ve been making those adjustments for years, just based on our numbers,” Ludington coach Charlie Gunsell said. “We’re not blessed with 45 kids on the varsity, so we’ve limited our contact for the past 10 years. When we do get after it, we get after it at a short period of time in a controlled environment.

“We can’t afford to lose a kid on a Tuesday. If somebody goes down on Friday, it’s bad enough. To lose a kid on a Tuesday could be devastating to us with our numbers.”

Briggs concurred.

“We’ve always tried to limit the amount of hitting that we do, being few in numbers,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to affect us. We were doing what they are asking for already.”

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The Managing Editor for the Ludington Daily News since June 2018 and on the staff since Oct. 2011, taking over for legendary Lloyd Wallace. Previously with The Chippewa Herald in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and the Tuscola County Advertiser in Caro.