Five new head coaches will get a first-look at their teams against squads in different colors today when the 2012 high school football season gets under way ... sort of.
Saturday marks the first day of scholastic football scrimmages around the state and all 13 Valley schools are in action. The teams will hold their second scrimmages on Aug. 24 before the 10-game regular season opens on Aug. 31.
East Juniata, Lewisburg, Line Mountain, Shikellamy and Upper Dauphin all break in new coaches today, but some of them are familiar names.
At Shikellamy, Todd Tilford returns to his alma mater after leading Lewisburg to unprecedented success in recent years. Tilford will get a good look at his new squad against one the state’s perennial powers when the Braves visit Southern Columbia, last year’s Class A state runner-up, in a 7 p.m. scrimmage. It is the only night scrimmage the first weekend.
New Lewisburg coach Jeremy Winn, the former head coach at Danville, leads the Green Dragons into Selinsgrove this morning for one of seven scrimmages at 10.
The Green Dragons, led by two-time all-state linebacker Brandon Smith, must replace top runner Merle Moscarello from a team that won nine games on its way to the District 4 semifinals. Selinsgrove is looking to rebound from a 1-9 season a year ago, where it went just 1-5 in the Heartland Athletic Conference Division I.
Rodney Knock, a former star quarterback at Line Mountain, sees his first action as the Eagles’ head coach today when Line Mountain goes to Muncy for a 10 a.m. scrimmage. While the Eagles lost offensive stars Marty Beninsky and Kyle Troutman, they have plenty of firepower left over from a team that went 10-2 in each of the last two seasons.
Another new face is at East Juniata where Simon Cameron takes over for long-time coach Tom Feltman. The Tigers, who are now part of the new 10-team, all-sport Tri-Valley League, travel to Milton to meet George Goodwin’s Black Panthers. Milton is coming off a remarkable run late last year where it won its final five regular season games to close the season before losing to Shamokin in the District 4 Class AAA title game.
The Valley’s final new coach is Brent Bell at Upper Dauphin, who takes over Justin Adams. The Trojans, who are also in the TVL after the Twin Valley Conference disbanded, host Northern Lebanon at 10 a.m.
Other scrimmages at 10 today are Mifflinburg at Juniata; Schuylkill Haven at Mount Carmel and Shamokin at Blue Mountain. Danville travels to Warrior Run at 11.
Mifflinburg, one of the favorites in both the HAC-I and District 4 Class AA races, returns nearly its entire defense from a squad that went unbeaten in the HAC-I and went 8-2 in the regular season.
Mount Carmel, last year’s District 4 Class AA champion, hosts Schuylkill Haven as the Red Tornadoes, the state’s all-time winningest program, kick off their 80th season at the Silver Bowl.
Shamokin, last year’s surprise winner in District 4 Class AAA and also won a first-round state playoff game, meet up with one of their former rivals in Mike Brennan, the head coach at Blue Mountain who also coached at Mount Carmel.
Danville looks to replace record-breaking quarterback Andrew Andreychik and coach Jim Keiser gets his first look at his new squad against Mark Burrows’ Warrior Run team that must replace leading rusher Austin Oberdorf.