EDWARDSVILLE – Area high school football teams launched their preseason drills Monday in preparation for the start of the 2015 football season, which takes place Aug. 28.

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At Metro-East Lutheran though, Monday's launch of the season marked the beginning of a new era for the Knights as a two-year coop agreement with Madison got under way.

The Knights, who often struggled just to put a team on the field in 2014, will play as Metro-East Lutheran during the coop agreement. Madison, on the other hand, hasn't even fielded a football team since the 1992 season.

Despite that, the Madison players who will be playing as Knights this season are fitting in well with the returning MEL players, felt Knight coach Matt Tschudy. “Some of the kids who are coming in from Madison have played junior-high football, some of the others are new to football,” Tschudy said. “Overall, they're doing very well. I'm really optimistic about how they'll fit in here and how they'll play.”

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Tschudy felt the opening day of drills – limited to conditioning drills with just helmets and shorts under IHSA rules – went well. “We had about 25 kids out there today and I thought it went pretty well overall,” Tschudy said. “We worked with them in the summer in the weight room and for the most part, they came in pretty decent football shape. We think we'll have a few more kids coming in soon and we're excited about the start of the season overall.”

While there are always high expectations at the start of the season, the fact that Madison players are returning to the football field for the first time in nearly a quarter-century is helping raise the excitement in the Madison community. “They're really excited about getting back on the football field,” Tschudy said, “and our first home game this season (against Bunker Hill Sept. 12) will be at Madison (at Sam Dymas Memorial Field at Madison High School).”

Tschudy hopes that his team can strike a balance on offense between the running and passing game and believes there's some good talent on the team. “We'll see who fits where, but we've got some talented players out there,” Tschudy said. “We have some good athletes, we've got good skill players and some good linemen.”

The Knights open up Aug. 28 at Bunker Hill in a non-conference clash.

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