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Area football coaches ready to start

Area sports fans got a sign of confidence last week when the East Penn Conference released the fall sports schedule for this season.

For local football coaches, it provides an opportunity to look at a calendar with a tangible dates to mentally prepare for a shortened five-game season that starts on Oct. 2.

While most public schools are still waiting to officially start their practices, Bethlehem Catholic went through their heat acclimatization period last week.

The Hawks, just like Central Catholic and Notre Dame-Green Pond, have been one of the few programs that have officially started their preseason camps, along with the likes of Palisades, Northwestern and Pen Argyl.

Being able to be on the field is one thing, being able to see light at the end of the tunnel with a schedule is another.

“Our kids have been pretty resilient throughout this whole process,” said Becahi head coach Joe Henrich. “They’ve been locked in and we continue to emphasize with them that we’d get to this point, but I think everyone knows that nothing is set in stone yet.”

With plenty of rumors swirling over the past week that school districts in the EPC would sit out playing this fall, seeing everyone agree to playing, as of now, is a good sign, but one that can certainly change once school starts.

Bethlehem Catholic started school on Monday and Henrich has had to adjust their planning for students and players that have elected to do completely virtual learning this year.

“Those students are basically logged onto the computer all day until 2:30 p.m.,” he said. “So, we’ve had to adjust our practice times and meetings to account for kids then coming to school on time to practice. There’s just so many details to work through.”

Bethlehem Area School District also began classes on Monday, but Liberty head coach John Truby said that they’ll pick up their training more beginning on Sept. 8 with the hope of getting into full practices on Sept. 14.

With the news of the schedule coming out last week, Truby acknowledged it certainly boosted morale.

“It was a relief,” Truby said. “Another barrier was removed and we are a step closer to getting out on the field as a team. The rumors have been the worst part right along with the Zoom meetings. I have to give my kids a lot of credit, they had helped even pick me up when the rumor mill was revving up, and it didn’t seem like we were going to have a season. These guys are resilient, and they adapted to our new normal quickly.”

Liberty and Freedom both won’t be able to have scrimmages before their openers in October, but Bethlehem Catholic will scrimmage Saucon Valley on Sept. 18 and have verbally agreed to play Whitehall on Sept. 25, a week before the official start of the EPC season.

Still, with schools getting back into the swing of things this week, keeping everyone safe and healthy is the priority, as things could change rapidly any day.

“No one knows what is going to happen,” said Truby. “I’m just happy that I get to pass out equipment and start getting back work next week.”