JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Community members got to meet East Tennessee State Univeristy’s (ETSU) football team and coaches during a “Meet the Team” event.

ETSU die-hards and some eager kids joined the team for drills, pictures and autographs on a beautiful Saturday morning.

ETSU Head Football Coach George Quarles said it was a great opportunity for his players to meet the people who support the team.

“All the Tri-Cities support the Bucs really, really well,” Quarles said. “This is a way we can kind of mix with them a little bit, get to know some of our fans and just spend some fun time with them and the kids. This is just a great way to start the weekend and the season.”

Quarles said events like this give players a welcome reprieve before the pressure-packed season gets underway.

“We’re going to scrimmage this afternoon, so they’ll get some work in today too; but, I just think it’s good for them to get to experience some normalcy,” Quarles said.

Quarles is entering his second season as head ball coach at ETSU. The team finished a disappointing 3-8 overall, and just 1-7 in the SoCon last year.

But Quarles said he is confident ahead of year two that the team has made improvements during the offseason.

“I really think our team is better this year,” Quarles said. “I think our culture is better. I think the chemistry on our team is much better. Clearly, we’ve lost some guys, but we’ve had some guys step up.”

ETSU kicks off its season on the road against FBS newcomers Jacksonville State on September 2 at 2 p.m.

Quarles said he’s ready to see how his team stacks up against that competition.

“I’m excited about seeing where we are, and [to] go against somebody else,” Quarles said. “It’s hard to tell sometimes when you’re just practicing or scrimmaging against each other, but we’ll find out here in a couple weeks.”

Three weeks from now, ETSU will play its first home game against Carson-Newman on September 9 at 5:30 p.m.