With fall sports practices set to begin on Monday, Aug. 12, here are some of the key dates for the coming season.
Saturday, Aug. 17 — Shelby boys soccer will be the first local team to take the field this year when it participates in the Reeths-Puffer Tournament. The Tigers will play again the following Monday against Kalkaska, and Pentwater will play its season opener that same day against Pine River.
Monday, Aug. 19 — In addition to those two soccer matchups, Pentwater and Shelby volleyball open their seasons at the Evart Tri; the two teams will face each other that day, the first intracounty sports matchup of the season.
Wednesday, Aug. 21 — Cross-country season begins for most of the county at the annual Baker Woods Invitational, hosted by Hesperia. Every county team except for two-time state champion Hart is slated to compete.
Thursday, Aug. 29 — Football season begins in the county as Shelby takes on Grant and Hart meets Holton, both at home. Hesperia will play its season opener the following day, also at home, against North Muskegon.
Thursday, Sept. 5 — Pentwater plays host to Walkerville in volleyball, the first direct matchup between the two schools on the athletic field this fall.
Friday, Sept. 6 — Walkerville and Hart meet up in soccer for the first intracounty matchup in that sport.
Tuesday, Sept. 17 — Hart begins its quest to repeat as West Michigan Conference champion in both boys and girls cross-country, as league season kicks off with the Montague jamboree. Also that day, Walkerville visits Pentwater in soccer.
Tuesday, Oct. 1 — Shelby faces Hart in soccer, the first Pink and Green Bowl event between the rivals.
Saturday, Oct. 5 — The Shelby Invitational, featuring all the county volleyball squads except for Walkerville, will be one of the highlight events for local spikers this season.
Wednesday, Oct. 9 — Boys soccer district tournaments begin, having been moved up on the calendar by five days beginning this year. Also, Walkerville hosts the West Michigan D League cross-country finals. The Wildcat boys narrowly earned the league title last season and will be shooting for a repeat.
Thursday, Oct. 10 — All five Oceana schools gather at Oceana Golf Club for the annual county cross-country meet. Hart has dominated in recent years. Walkerville and Pentwater will also meet up for a second time on the soccer field.
Tuesday, Oct. 15 — Shelby and Hart battle in volleyball to cap off WMC regular-season play. The Tigers won a marathon battle between the teams in five games last fall.
Friday, Oct. 18 — Shelby and Hart football compete in the 11th annual Pink and Green Bowl. The event raises money each year for cancer services in the county.
Saturday, Oct. 26 — Regional cross-country meets will be held statewide. This year, all five county schools will run their regional meets at Benzie Central. Also, the WMC volleyball tournament, held at Ravenna, will determine the conference champion.
Friday, Nov. 1 — The first round of the football playoffs will begin the process of going from 256 playoff-qualifying schools to eight state champions.
Saturday, Nov. 2 — The state cross-country finals return to Michigan International Speedway. Hart is expected to be chasing its third straight state title in girls cross-country.
Monday, Nov. 4 — Volleyball district tournaments begin.