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Quaker Valley football takes camp on the road

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Football players run drills during conditioning on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, at Chuck Knox Stadium in Leetsdale. Quaker Valley football practice officially begins on Aug. 11.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Football players run drills during conditioning on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, at Chuck Knox Stadium in Leetsdale. Quaker Valley football practice officially begins on Aug. 11.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Football players run drills during conditioning on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, at Chuck Knox Stadium in Leetsdale. Quaker Valley football practice officially begins on Aug. 11.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Football players run drills during conditioning on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, at Chuck Knox Stadium in Leetsdale. Quaker Valley football practice officially begins on Aug. 11.

Football is back.

Teams across the WPIAL open camp Monday in preparation for the season that begins the last week of August.

This year Quaker Valley will open camp away from its home field. Rather than having to compete for field time with the soccer teams and marching band, coach John Tortorea elected to move the first three days of camp to Cornell High School.

The athletes will arrive at the high school Sunday night to participate in a team sleepover, now a tradition under Tortorea.

“We'll do all of our testing that night and keep everyone together for team bonding,” Tortorea said. “We've done it each of the last four years now, and it's always been a success.”

The Quakers are expecting to have more than 60 kids for the start of camp, with the final number for the team falling somewhere between 50 and 55 players, Tortorea said. That number is bolstered by a large freshman class coming off of an undefeated season on the junior high level last year.

Under PIAA rules, teams must go through three days of heat acclimatization practice before donning full pads and holding contact practices. The QV coaching staff doesn't mind the rule and has even found it accomplishing what it was put in place to do.

“Some programs are coming in this week and getting their three days in Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” Tortorea said. “Last year we found out that it saves our bodies a little more if we just do it Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. We're actually saving ourselves two days of beating each other up by not going into pads until Wednesday.”

In years past, the Quakers might not have been able to afford getting a late start on hitting drills. But they return an experienced team this season.

“We get more time spending on technique and scheme,” Tortorea said, “rather than seeing who's going to hit and who's not since we know these guys.”

The team held its first minicamp in early June before holding regular workouts throughout the summer. It was the showing at that minicamp that gave Tortorea the confidence to hold a more advanced preseason camp this year.

“When we had that minicamp I was really shocked, because our last game was in November,” Tortorea said. “So however many months we had from November to June, that first time when everyone got back from their other sports, we stepped on the field and did what we do. It didn't look any different.”

One part of the team that will look different this year is the offensive line. After graduating four of the five starters, the Quakers are using camp to tweak the makeup of the group.

“Our scheme benefits us to have faster athletic guys,” Tortorea said. “Last year we had bigger, stronger guys. They did a fantastic job, but we have guys now who fit our scheme better. We want to see these five guys working together and see if they can surpass the standard that was set for them last year.”

The offensive line anchored a team that went 8-3 and advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals last season. It's understandable that teams around the conference will doubt the Quakers' ability to rebuild the line so quickly.

But Tortorea isn't worried.

“I'm excited,” he said. “I've told them to use it as motivation because all we're hearing is that Quaker Valley has the skill guys, but they don't have anything else.”

The Quakers will be traveling to scrimmage against South Side Beaver at 10 a.m. Aug. 16 to close out the first week of camp.

The season opens Aug. 29 at Keystone Oaks.

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com or via Twitter @GHorvath_Trib.

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