Players, coaches get back to work
Ford City and Kittanning kicked off the 2007 high school football season with training camp practices at 9 a.m. Monday.
The start time wasn't the only thing the Armstrong County rivals shared in common, as both teams focused on fundamentals.
"We start with the basics, although we conditioned all summer," Ford City coach John Bartolovic said. "We start from square one and do some blocking and tackling and build off of that each day.
"Our tackling was just on dummies and form tackling, and then we went live up front this afternoon."
Ford City's afternoon live session was the most hitting the reigning Allegheny Conference champions did yesterday. Bartolovic said his team won't go "full bore" until Wednesday.
While Ford City focused on tackling, Kittanning went over blocking. During the Wildcats' afternoon session, the offensive line concentrated on blocking schemes.
Kittanning coach Sam Panchik said the Wildcats will focus on defense today.
"There was a lot of sluggishness today," Panchik said. "But, as the second session ended, we started seeing more positive things."
Panchik said he looks for enthusiasm and aggressiveness on the first day of training camp.
"I want to see who is going after somebody," he said. "I want to see who is going to make big plays for us."
Neither Ford City nor Kittanning have many returning starters. The Sabers lost 16 starters, including Derek Bush, who was the Leader Times Offensive Player of the Year, and Josh Hospodar, who was the Leader Times Defensive Player of the Year.
Kittanning lost 15 seniors, including four-year starter Ryan Shepard and starting linemen Kelly Knepshield and Adam Kutch.
However, Bartolovic said some of his assistant coaches were surprised with how much the younger players knew about the system on the first day.
"We had quite a bit in," he said. "Our older guys and the guys who we're expecting to play knew what was going on. That core nucleus definitely knows what's going on mentally."
Both coaches agreed that the first day of training camp is not a good indicator of how the season will turn out.
"As far as execution and X's and O's go, our guys know what to do," Bartolovic said. "Are we going to be able to do it• By comparison to other teams, I'm sure we got a few question marks. Hopefully, those will be answered through the scrimmages by the first game."
Panchik, on the other hand, said it wasn't a good indicator because he "can't remember ever having a good first day" of training camp.
"As soon as you put on the pads and helmets, things change mentally," Panchik said. "You might think you (have a good first practice), but not really."