Two-hundred-forty-six days after Bullard Brook Hill won the school’s first football state championship, the Guard can officially begin their title defense.

Brook Hill, which claimed the TAPPS Division III crown on Dec. 3, 2011, and the rest of TAPPS schools can begin practice today after an official TAPPS dead week July 30-Aug. 3.

Additionally, TAPPS volleyball and fall soccer teams can begin practicing today.

The Guard will have to defend their D-III crown from a new division as they have moved up to D-II in a strong district that includes Grace Community, Bishop Gorman, Dallas Parish Episcopal and Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Brook Hill coach Terry Pirtle said. “Everybody’s going to be putting us on their schedule as a game that they’re really going to play hard in for sure.”

TAPPS schools are not allowed to wear pads or have contact activities for the first three days of fall practice, though helmets are allowed. Aug. 9 is the first date when pads and contact are allowed.

The first date TAPPS allows football scrimmages is Aug. 16. The season begins Aug. 30. Volleyball teams may begin scrimmaging Aug. 9.

Brook Hill opens with Frankston in the Brook Hill Classic on Aug. 30 at Herrington Field. That same day, Grace Community hosts San Augustine in the Tyler Football Classic. Bishop Gorman has the Friday night game of the Tyler Classic against Beckville while All Saints opens its season on Sept. 1 against Timpson.

District play begins Sept. 28 for TAPPS D-II District 2. Grace opens at Dallas Christian while Gorman hosts Brook Hill that day.

“It’s really exciting knowing that going into the season we’re going to have the pressure to perform well together,” Pirtle said. “I think that the kids are ready for a challenge. This year we know we’re going to have to step up.”

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