Monday marked the first day of fall practices around the Valley, and area coaches liked what they saw from their players after the opening day of the preseason.
After a week of heat acclimation practices, Lewisburg football coach Marc Persing was excited to have an actual practice — with contact.
“It was a breath of fresh air waking up today knowing that we could finally put it all together with some contact and collisions,” said Persing. “The first day went better than expected — we were assignment sharp on both sides of the ball and the energy was fantastic!”
Lewisburg scrimmages Montoursville on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Pawling Athletic Complex, but the Green Dragons open the season Aug. 23 at Selinsgrove at 7 p.m.
Next Friday’s other games feature Mifflinburg playing at Hughesville, Milton playing at Shamokin and Warrior Run hosting Muncy — all at 7 p.m.
“What pleased me the most was seeing how our kids responded with the full gear on today when it was hot outside. We also had a great mixture of guys making plays that are expected to, and some younger guys that are trying to solidify their spots in the starting lineup.
“Something feels special about this group, now all we need to do is do our best as a staff to make sure we keep our guys healthy for the start of the season.” added Persing.
For girls tennis, however, the season starts Aug. 19.
Milton, which advanced to the District 4 quarterfinals a year ago, plays at Shikellamy at 4 p.m. on the first day. The Black Panthers also have a District 4 semifinalist in singles returning in Hannah Seebold, who will be joined by her sister, Haley, in the top two singles spots on the team.
Mifflinburg tennis will host Central Mountain and Lewisburg plays at Central Columbia on Aug. 19 as well.
The 2019 regular season starts in earnest for the remainder of the sports on Saturday, Aug. 31.
Mifflinburg field hockey, the defending District 4 Class A champions, opens its season with a home game against East Juniata on Sept. 4 at 4:30 p.m.
Lewisburg, the team Mifflinburg beat to claim its title, opens the year at Southern Columbia on Sept. 3. In addition, Milton hosts Warrior Run on Aug. 31 at 11 a.m.
“I’m very excited. We have a good bunch of girls and we’re looking forward to the season,” said Mifflinburg coach Shelly Orren.
“So far, the first day has gone very well. We had our morning session — our longest session — and it went well,” added Orren. “We lost some fantastic players, but we’ve got some young talent coming up so that’s always something to build on.”
Lewisburg’s girls soccer team, fresh off its runner-up finish in the PIAA Class 2A playoffs a year ago, opens its season on Aug. 31 by traveling to the Central Columbia Tournament.
The Green Dragons will be under the direction of first-year coach Terry Gerlinski, who has come over from Lewisburg’s boys soccer team following the resignation of Jose Vega.
“The first day has gone good so far. Being a new coach, I’m very anxious. It was a tough decision to leave the boys team, but when I made that decision I was very excited,” said Gerlinski.
“The girls are excited. (The scheme) is going to be different that what they’ve done in the past — a different language — and the biggest thing right now is that we don’t have a whole lot of time before our first game. I wish we had another week (of practice).”
Regardless, Lewisburg’s girls are itching for repeat performance from a year ago.
“They got a drive, and we’ve talked expectations and we’ve talked goals and we’ve talked where we want to end up. It’s a long season and you just have to work through it,” added Gerlinski.
The girls soccer team from Mifflinburg hosts Milton on Aug. 31 at 11 a.m., plus Warrior Run plays at Jersey Shore on Aug. 30 at 4:30 p.m.
In boys soccer, Lewisburg will be playing at Dallas at 11 a.m. and Mifflinburg will be at the Bald Eagle Area Tournament — both on Aug. 31.
Boys and girls golf gets underway on Aug. 28 with Lewisburg, Milton and Mifflinburg and the rest of the Heartland-II teams playing at Wynding Brook Golf Club.
And in boys and girls cross country, the season starts Aug. 31 with Mifflinburg competing in the Bear Mountain Invite (at Lock Haven University), but three days later the Wildcats will be hosting a quad meet featuring Lewisburg, Central Columbia, Mount Carmel and Shikellamy at 4:30 p.m.