Oliver: Are you ready for some football?
Throughout the WPIAL, the sounds of pads and helmets cracking and whistles tooting will be in the air today.
And it's no different in the mid-Mon Valley.
Today is the start of two weeks of summer camp for football teams and this year has an new twist in the fact that four area teams open with new coaches.
Matt Humbert has gone from Ringgold to Belle Vernon Area and Nick Milchovich replaces him at Ringgold. Donnie Militzer takes over at Charleroi Area after a one-year stint at Gateway and Ron Skiles is back for a third tour at Bentworth hoping to rebuild the struggling Bearcats program.
Depending on which coach you talk to, teams will be going through either three, two or just one practice each day with each week of work culminating in a scrimmage.
At BVA, Humbert will put the Leps through their paces twice a day, starting at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. each day.
“I think we will be solid,” Humbert said of his new team. “We have good numbers and most are upperclassmen, so depth won't be a problem.”
At Ringgold, Milchovich and the Rams will be going twice a day at Joe Montana Stadium, once in the morning and then again in the afternoon.
Milchovich is pleased with what he has seen of his new team through conditioning.
“We definitely have the speed, which is something new for me,” he said. “We have some real good leaders and I think we are all excited.”
At Charleroi, Militzer will drill the Cougars twice a day today through Thursday starting 8:45 a.m. and once on Friday. The second week, the Cougars will hit the field once a day in the afternoon.
Skiles coached the Bearcats through some of their best years when he was there the first time in the 1980s.
However, wins have been far and few between since then at Bentworth.
But, already it looks like Skiles is making an impression with the program as he welcomed 35 players.
“The numbers are good, but we are in a big hole here,” Skiles said. “But we're working every day and going from there.”
Bentworth will practice once a day, from 8 a.m. to 12:30, each week.
At Monessen, Andy Pacak enters his 11th season – the longest such tenure at one school in the area – with just 31 players on the roster.
The Greyhounds will take the field three times a day the first week of camp, starting at 7:30 a.m., and will go back to once a day in the evening the second week.
“We're awfully young, but we will put the work in,” Pacak said. “We expect to be ready when the season starts.”
At California Area, Bo Teets enters his second season pleased with the Trojans' numbers.
“We should have 33 kids, which about 10 more than we did last year,” Teets said. ‘That's encouraging.”
California will practice three times a day this week, starting at 8:30 a.m., before scaling back to twice a day the second week of camp.
Elizabeth Forward will be the lone team going away to camp this week, spending time at Bishop Connare Center near Latrobe.
Coach Mike LeDonne's team will return to EF the second week and practice twice a day Monday through Wednesday and once on Thursday.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.