High School football practice officially begins in North Carolina on Saturday. Here are some key dates:
Aug. 1.: Start of N.C. high school football practice
Aug. 21: First games of the season
Nov. 6: First round NCISAA playoffs
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Nov. 13: First round NCHSAA playoffs; NCISAA Division I state finals
Nov. 20: NCISAA Divsion II and III state finals
Dec. 11-12: NCHSAA state championships
The Observer kicks off its Sweet 16 countdown Saturday with a preview of No. 16 East Lincoln. Look for daily features on ranked teams leading up to a special preview section Aug. 16.