Preseason practices got under way across the board for all of the fall sports teams at Redbank Valley and Union on Monday.
Here’s a quick look at all of the returning area teams for the upcoming season. Full team previews will run in the Leader-Vindicator starting next week.
First-year head coach Blane Gold has 39 players in camp including ninth-graders as usual. He takes over a Bulldogs program after six years as an assistant under veteran coach Ed Wasilowski.
The Bulldogs finished 7-4 after a first-round playoff loss to Coudersport and they were picked to finish third in the Small School South Division according to the annual District 9 League coaches poll. Losing nine players to graduation, the Bulldogs have plenty back, among the returners are senior Ethan Hetrick, the team’s top returning pass-catcher, senior linebacker/running back Hudson Martz and senior all-conference lineman Trent Bowersox.
The Bulldogs scrimmage Moniteau at home Saturday at 11 a.m. then open the regular season at home against Keystone on Aug. 23.
The defending D9 Class 2A champion Lady Bulldogs, 17-2 last year, have 30 girls in preseason practices this year as head coach Matt Darr enters his fourth season in his second stint with the program and 14th overall.
Senior Taylor King is the lone returning all-conference player back for Darr, who had five girls land postseason recognition. King was also a D9 Class 2A All-District selection.
The Lady Bulldogs scrimmage at home this Saturday against Union, DuBois and Kane starting at 9:30 a.m. then scrimmage Aug. 24 at home again against A-C Valley, Punxsutawney and Homer-Center at the same time. They open the season at the A-C Valley Tournament Aug. 31. Their dual match schedule begins Sept. 3 at home against Clarion.
For the Bulldogs’ third-year coach A.J. Blose, it’s a 17-man roster that’ll try to improve on last year’s 3-12 season.
Junior Koltin Kline returns on the offensive end of the field after leading the Bulldogs in scoring last fall. Among the other leaders back are seniors Anthony Baileys, Declan Fricko, Jacob Faulk and Chase Guntrum along with juniors Kyle Watkins and Owen Fricko.
The Bulldogs scrimmage at Keystone Saturday at 6:45 p.m. They also open the season at home against Keystone Sept. 3.
The Lady Bulldogs, coming off a 7-8-2 season following a shootout loss in their Class 1A playoff opener, have 23 players in camp for the opening week under fourth-year head coach Mike Dawson.
Senior all-conference player Brooke Eberle is back at one of the striker spots after leading the Lady Bulldogs with 16 goals.
The Lady Bulldogs also scrimmage at Keystone Saturday at 7:45 p.m. following the boys before opening the season at home as well against Keystone Sept. 3.
It’s the second year for Falcon Knights head coach Brad Dittman, who has 21 players on his roster, leading to the team that’s still a co-op between Union and A-C Valley, scratching its JV schedule.
The Falcon Knights were 4-7 last year, losing their Class 1A playoff opener at Smethport. They lost both of their Small School-South All-Conference players — Joe Dehart and Nolan Cumberland — to graduation, but return starting quarterback in senior Luke Bowser, their top all-purpose yardage leader in sophomore Caden Rainey and leading receiver in junior Tanner Merwin.
The Falcon Knights scrimmage at West Shamokin Saturday at 10 a.m. before heading to Coudersport to start the regular season schedule Aug. 23.
It’s Diana Thorpe’s third season with the Damsels, who are coming off an 11-10 season that ended with a first-round playoff loss to Coudersport.
Thorpe has 20 girls on the preseason roster. She has four starters back in seniors Emma Pritchard and Drew Yoder, junior Morgan Cumberland and sophomore Dominika Logue.
They’ll scrimmage Saturday at Redbank Valley and Tuesday at home with Clarion-Limestone and Keystone before opening the regular season at home against Cranberry on Sept. 3.