Share This Page

High school football teams across area begin camp

| Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, 11:09 p.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Ford City's Adam Tatsak works out during the first day of football camp Monday, Aug. 12, 2013

Whether the fall ends with a championship or just a few wins, Monday will be looked back upon as the starting point.

Monday was the official start of practice for the new school year. For local football teams, that means the start of two-a-day practices, live hitting drills and everything else needed in the build-up to opening night Aug. 30.

Warm, sunny weather made the day a perfect one to begin practice — at least it did until a brief, heavy rainfall hit after 6 p.m. — but by that point, most local teams had wrapped a first day filled with optimism about the new season.

“It was really good to get back to the grind. We've got a good team, and I think we're getting there,” Ford City senior Chantz Schrecengost said.

“It felt good to be in full pads again. We had a good practice today, and we're moving forward,” Kittanning senior Shawn Shaner said.

The first full-contact drills often are a highlight for players, but coaches aren't always comfortable with turning players loose right away.

Injuries are a concern whenever players go live, and at Ford City, where turnout for the start of practice was lower than in previous years, coach John Bartolovic and his staff emphasized proper form over pop.

Ford City began its second practice of the day, a defense-oriented session, with more than 20 minutes of form tackling drills that included the entire team.

While the coaching points offered related more to keeping heads up and hips low, the players still embraced the chance to create the season's first collisions.

“We're really excited to start hitting,” Schrecengost said prior to the Sabers' second practice. “Most of the people out here are battling for positions, so with less people, that's more work everyone has to put in.”

At Kittanning, defense is the focus of the team's morning session, which means more of the hitting comes early.

Coach Frank Fabian's concern on the first day is that his players get so eager to hit for the first time that “technique goes out the window.” So while he and his staff also focus on good tackling form, they also provide their players an early opportunity to take out their aggression.

“The first practice, the one thing that we do — and if we don't do it at the beginning, we do it at the end — is Oklahomas,” Shaner said. “We always have to get those in.”

The Oklahoma drill — a hitting drill that pits players against each other in a small corridor of space — is a mainstay at football practices at all levels. Fabian employs that classic staple at Kittanning, but the Wildcats' camp also features the more modern touch of music during practices.

Fabian laughed when he recalled how the idea of playing music during practice was a point of disagreement between himself and Redbank Valley coach Ed Wasilowski when the two coached together at Redbank, but Fabian said he thinks it helps the players stay loose but focused during camp.

No matter the specifics of each team's camp, at which the drills and coaching styles are many, players everywhere share the thought that Monday was the first step toward posting a winning fall for their school.

“Everyone gets more intense when camp begins,” Shaner said. “Before you even put the pads on in the morning, your adrenaline is really pumping about starting to hit, and it just goes up from there.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.