POTTSVILLE - Football is back and the anthracite area knows it. With a record 11 different media companies on hand yesterday, the annual Schuylkill County Football Coaches Association was overrun with reporters, bloggers and television stations trying to find out who can make waves this season.
The consensus around the coaching ranks of the Anthracite Football League is that there is no clear cut favorite.
"This year there isn't a lot of hype for one particular team", said Tamaqua Head Coach Sam Bonner. "I think it's going to be interesting to see who finishes on top."
"I think the league is pretty balanced this year", added Jim Thorpe Head Coach Mark Rosenberger. "It's going to be very competitive out there."
Some coaches don't see a favorite but Marian head man Stan Dakosty sees things a little different.
"North Schuylkill is definitely a team to be reckoned with," said Dakosty. "They have a lot of kids coming back so lets put the pressure on them."
Panther Valley is coming off a tough season where it went 1-9, but head coach Lon Hazlet and assistant coach Paul McArdle are implementing a new philosophy for the Panthers.
"Were teaching these players life lessons", stated McArdle. "When you show up to practice you contribute just like you would have to in the real work force."
The Panther coaching staff isn't trying to rebuild either, it wants to turn things around quickly and compete this fall.
"We're going to do whatever we can to do a one-year turn around", said McArdle. "I can't look a senior in the eye and tell him were going to need two or three more years before we start winning."
The Olympians may have surprised a few people last year making it to the District 11 playoffs and almost knocking of Northern Lehigh. Rosenberger feels his team could once again be flying under the radar.
"Our scrimmages are going to be very key for us", said Rosenberger. "If we can gain some experience and confidence early on we have talented kids that can make us a tough football team."
Tamaqua's 2010 campaign was definitely disappointing going 3-7, but Raider Head Coach Sammy Bonner likes the players he has coming back.
"We have a lot of our defensive and offensive line returning this year and that's always vital when playing in our league," Bonner said. "We had a real good offseason and were looking to get out to a strong start for 2011."
Marian has definitely had its struggles of late and Dakosty thinks the Colts have to get back to their roots.
"Our motto never changes here at Marian," he said. "We aim to win games and make noise in the playoffs. This year more than most we have that extra incentive as well to try and bounce back."
The fates of area football teams are only being guessed at this time of the year. As September nears and the colors of the leaves start to change, the true colors of these grid iron squads will show.