Thursday morning marked the first day of high school football practice for many teams, including the Lord Botetourt Cavaliers.

After a 9-1 regular season last year that saw a complete change in culture from previous years, the Cavs hope to build on that in the third year under Coach Jamie Harless.

“When a young man really learns he's the one who can control his own destiny, that's a pretty powerful thing,” Harless said. “I go back to doing the right thing every day. Getting yourself in the mode of staying focused. Realizing that there's a bigger picture to everything that you do. If you do that, and you can hold on to it long enough, the results are pretty powerful.”

One area the Cavaliers will need to fill is the running back position to replace Chris Thompson. He was a 2,000-plus yard rusher who accounted for 36 touchdowns. Those are big shoes to fill of someone who was all over the record books, breaking the school's single-season record for rushing yards, touchdowns and two-point conversions, and averaged more than 200 yards per game in the postseason.

“You talk about Chris Thompson as a running back. I'm more worried about replacing him as a leader,” Harless said. “Here's a guy who shows up every day. Does everything he's supposed to. Humble. He's everything you want in a young man. To me, I hope my son learns how to act like Chris Thompson did.”