It is all uphill from here.


Belton officially opened its season last week, when University Interscholastic League rules permitted practices, and after days of conditioning, the Tigers took part in their annual towel scrimmage Saturday – the first day full contact was allowed.


For two hours, the players prepared, working to become a cohesive unit before kicking off the season Aug. 27 at Georgetown.


While a lot was accomplished, according to Belton head coach Brett Sniffin, the process is only beginning.


“I’m extremely proud of the way the kids have progressed,” he said, “but we can’t be satisfied. This is just where the bar is set for right now.


“We have to keep raising it each week.”


Tonight at 7 p.m., the Tigers have another opportunity to improve as they host Hutto in their lone scrimmage against an outside opponent.


The Hippos are coming off a 4-5 season, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013, but they return a number of talented players in key positions, including junior linebacker Brody Bujnoch, who was named 25-6A All-District Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2020.


Sniffin is not concerned with the Hippos, though.


“Scrimmages are practices to us,” he said. “We script out all our plays, and we don’t call plays to be successful. We call plays to see what we can do in a certain situation.


“It’s all about our kids getting better in the different situations we put them in.”


At the Tigers’ intrasquad scrimmage, the offense and defense took turns impressing Sniffin and his staff as they practiced in pads for the first time.


Series of plays from various areas of the field were run throughout the event, which did not feature any simulation of live action utilizing aspects such as running clocks or referees.


Although the Tigers delivered a solid showing Saturday, it is not merely the result of a week’s practices.


“We are a completely different team from where we were on this date last year,” Sniffin said. “We are so much further ahead.


“The guys have put in the work to be at this point.”


Soon, however, Belton must shift its inward focus toward the Eagles and beginning their trek toward returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2018.


And now that the season is officially underway, the mentality must change.


“I want to see the intensity raised once we put on the pads,” Sniffin said. “After five days of just conditioning, it can be a drag.


“But they came out with a lot of energy, and that was awesome.”