The dawning of another high school football season brings a special time of the year.
School is back in session or is about to be, there's a sense of renewal, and fall temperatures - though we've experienced them for most of the summer - bring a crispness and exhilaration.
And, of course, before the season starts, optimism abounds as everybody is undefeated.
Nothing brings a community together quite like high school football as small-town stadiums are buzzing with enthusiasm.
Many who no longer have a connection to the team still maintain their tradition of supporting the high school program where they now live and perhaps where they and/or their children attended.
Families and friends come out to see their sons on the field or their children performing in the band or on the cheerleading squad.
Each serve an integral part of what makes the high school experience unique, and each squad has likely been training much of the summer.
On the field, the drama can be high. So can the physical risks.
Concussion awareness has become an important national topic. The National Football League on Thursday announced it has reached a tentative $775 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research.
The Mirror recently wrote an extensive story on the heartache a local family endured following the June death of former Altoona Area High School football player Joey Mummert, who suffered multiple concussions on and off the football field.
It's especially important for school administrators, coaches, training staff, players and their parents to recognize the warning signs and effectively communicate them to possibly avoid more serious ramifications.
Though injuries in football are inevitable, we also recognize the value of the sport - paticularly in leadership, toughness and in team and community building - for its participants.
We hope it's a safe and enjoyable season for you and your favorite team.