HS football practice officially opens Monday
Players from Panther Valley and Lehighton get ready to shake hands before their game last season. The Panthers and Indians, as well as seven other area schools, will hold their first official football practices on Monday. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO
It’s almost here.
While players have participated in summer camps and 7-on-7s, and have now gone through the heat acclimation week, the real start of high school football comes Monday — when the first official practices occur.
Across the Times News area, all nine schools will start their two-a-days with the hopes of having a successful season.
Two clubs welcome new head coaches, as Rick Jones takes over at Panther Valley and Blaec Saeger will lead Pleasant Valley. The two schools combined for only three wins a year ago, but both mentors are looking to start the transition into building winning programs.
Jim Thorpe’s Mark Rosenberger is very familiar with a winning program, having guided the Olympians to six consecutive years above .500. Rosenberger is also the longest tenured coach in the area, as he gets ready to begin his 22nd season.
For Rosenberger, who has a career record of 137-86, the start of another season never gets old. It remains one of the most anticipated times of the year.
“I just enjoy being around the kids,” said Rosenberger, who has had 17 winning seasons during his stay at Thorpe. “Trying to mold them into young men — and their excitement, and the coaches’ excitement — it never wains this time of year. I just look forward to this time of the year, and getting started (Monday) with two-a-days.
“It’s just something I enjoy. I enjoy the kids. I enjoy the sport. I enjoy the competition. And, with all those things together, it just makes it that much easier to keep coming back.”
Jim Thorpe is coming off a 9-2 season and hopes to compete again for league and district titles. The only other area schools that posted winning years in 2018 were Tamaqua and Northwestern. The Blue Raiders were 9-2, while the Tigers posted a 9-3 mark.
Below are preseason capsules for all nine area teams. Information includes varsity turnout, practice schedules and scrimmage details. The schools are listed in alphabetical order.
The regular season begins Friday, Aug. 23.
Head coach: Mark Rosenberger (22nd year)
Varsity turnout: 50
Practice schedule: 7-9:30 a.m.; 12:15-2:45 p.m.
Scrimmage: Saturday, Aug. 17 vs. Palmerton, 10 a.m.
Head coach: Tom McCarroll (8th year)
Varsity turnout: 55
Practice schedule: 8-11 a.m.; 2-5 p.m.
Scrimmage: Saturday, Aug. 17 vs. Whitehall and Notre Dame, 10 a.m.
Head coach: Pat Morgans (3rd year)
Varsity turnout: 33
Practice schedule: 8:30-10:45 a.m.; 12:15-2:30 p.m.
Scrimmage: Saturday, Aug. 17 vs. Northern Lehigh, 10 a.m.
Head coach: Joe Tout (14th year)
Varsity turnout: 42
Practice schedule: Monday through Thursday: 8-10:15 a.m., 1:15-3:15 p.m.; Friday: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Scrimmage: Saturday, Aug. 17 at Marian, 10 a.m.
Head coach: Josh Snyder (8th year)
Varsity turnout: 45
Practice schedule: Monday through Wednesday 8-10:30 a.m., 12:30-3 p.m.; Thursday: TBD; Friday: 12-2 p.m. (???)
Scrimmage: Saturday, Aug. 17 vs. Pen Argyl and Dieruff (at J. Birney Crum), 10 a.m.
Head coach: Chris Walkowiak (9th year)
Varsity turnout: 29
Practice schedule: 6:30-9:30 a.m.; 5-7 p.m.
Scrimmage: Saturday, Aug. 17 at Jim Thorpe, 10 a.m.
Head coach: Ricky Jones (1st year)
Varsity turnout: 35
Practice schedule: 9-11 a.m.; 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Scrimmage: Saturday, Aug. 17 at Schuylkill Valley, 11 a.m.
Head coach: Blaec Saeger (1st year)
Varsity turnout: 50
Practice schedule: Monday-Friday: 9-11 a.m.; 1-3 p.m.
Scrimmage: Saturday, Aug. 17 vs. Catasauqua, 10 a.m.
Head coach: Sam Bonner (13th year)
Varsity turnout: 47
Practice schedule: Monday through Wednesday: 7:30-10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m; Thursday: 10 a.m.-12 p.m., 2-4 p.m.; Friday: 1-4 p.m.
Scrimmage: Saturday, Aug. 17 vs. Hamburg, 10 a.m.