Greensburg Central Catholic hits road for football camp

Monday, August 16, 2021 | 4:20 PM

While high school football teams going away for training camp seems like a forgotten tradition, a lost art even, one local program hit the road and rekindled the custom for the first week of preseason workouts.

High school camps opened Monday around the WPIAL, and Greensburg Central Catholic left bright and early for Pine Springs Camp in Jennerstown for the first week of camp.

Two buses and a U-Haul departed campus and headed for the mountains.

“It’s something I did at Connellsville for two years,” Centurions first-year coach Marko Thomas said. “We need this to help bring our team together. It’s something I think works.”

GCC has a number of transfers this season, including three from rival Jeannette in Ryan Kimmel, Taishan Jamison and Jaydin Canady. Thomas said he planned to put players from different areas together in the same rooms at Pine Springs.

While disappearing into the woods for a week seems daunting, a time when players and coaches will rough it as they run drills and bond, this trip looks like fun.

Pine Springs isn’t exactly Camp Crystal Lake. There is a water slide, archery, rope-climbing, mountain-biking, a zip-line, and an obstacle course with a military wall — among other things to pass the time during the five-day retreat.

“It’s more like a resort,” Thomas said. “It will be fun because we will have team-building activities and a lot to do. We hope the kids are different when they come out — closer.”

Of course, distractions will be limited in a controlled environment that, despite the activities, is all about football.

“I told them, no cell phones, and there are no TVs,” Thomas said. “They didn’t like the phone part.

“The thing with (going away) is, no one is late, nobody’s car breaks down and you know where everyone is.”

Thomas said covid-19 concerns were discussed, but the team plans to bring masks, and players and coaches will be spaced out in different cabins.

“We’re very excited to go to camp,” senior lineman Joe Semelka said. “The past three years, we’ve been at school, so this will be different. A lot of us didn’t grow up together, and coach said he will pair up guys (from different areas). We have guys from Latrobe, Norwin, Belle Vernon, Penn-Trafford, all over. Knowing the guys next to you really helps in football.”

As for the lack of TV and phones, Semelka is willing to adjust — for a week.

“The only screen we’ll be watching is game film,” he said.

Other local teams opened camp at stadiums or practice fields, most of them on campus.

Official practice for all WPIAL fall sports seasons began Monday, including soccer, cross country, golf, girls tennis, girls volleyball and field hockey.

The first games or matches will be Thursday for golf, Aug. 23 for tennis, Aug. 27 for football and Sept. 3 for the rest.

Football teams will scrimmage Saturday.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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