Last week marked the unofficial end to summer at least, for area high school football players.
Practices began last Monday for all Section II teams. By Friday, teams such as Bethlehem had already settled into their routines as they get ready for their season openers Labor Day weekend.
Summer is always too short, but the first week of football is always fun," said Bethlehem senior linebacker/running back Kyle Bossung.
Bossung is part of a short list of veteran starters for the Eagles. That means he and the other returning players have to take the newcomers under their wings and help them adjust to the varsity level.
"When I started last year, it was such a change from JV to varsity that it took me a couple of games to get used to it," said Bossung. "Now we know exactly what we're doing, and we have to help the new guys."
"Everyone seems to be getting used to the whole system," said fellow senior tailback Mike Strohecker. "We got a lot of work done during this off-season."
Among the players Bethlehem has to replace are last year's speedy tailback duo of Casiem Maxwell and Devin Stampley, but Strohecker said he is confident that this year's team will be able to keep up the pace.
"As a whole, we have more speed than we had last year," said Strohecker. "Yeah we had Devin and Casiem last year, and they were very fast. But I think we have more team speed this year."
Bethlehem will have to utilize its speed if it hopes to make another trip to the Section II Class AA playoffs. The Eagles clinched a berth in the final week of the 2009 season and played a close game against Ballston Spa before falling in the quarterfinals.
"Hopefully, we'll get in the playoffs again," said Bossung. "We lost a couple of games last year that we were right there [to win]."
Bethlehem begins its season with a pair of after-noon home games " Sept. 4 against Shenendehowa and Sept. 11 against Christian Brothers Academy.
A more comprehensive look at the Class AA field will appear in next week's edition.""