The pads didn’t come on for day one of high school practice today, but unlike last year, they will be.

“I’m ready to go,” Milton junior running back Caleb Barnier said.

Barnier sat out the modified 2020 season for what seemed to be one reason only.

“No contact. I’m a running back, and that’s what that position is really about for me,” Barnier said.

The 7-on-7 pass-only format limited the versatility of the running back position, but it also detracted from the offensive and defensive lines.

“Last year there were a lot of things, especially with linemen, that were left undone, because they were throwing passes and catching balls and stuff like that,” Milton football head coach Jim Provost said. “Some of our younger linemen missed out on that year of fundamental training, so I think we’re going to have to be a little more patient with that this year and try to basically squeeze two years into one.”

The last time Milton played a full-contact football season, the team won one game and finished 1-7 at season’s end. This year, Provost believes the Yellowjackets are capable of much more.

“We want to be competitive in every game we play, and hopefully gain an upper-level playoff berth,” Provost said.

Milton will open its season hosting fellow D2 school North Country on Friday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m.