It’s a great day to be a Cavalier: Kiski Area football team returns to practice field

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Thursday, June 18, 2020 | 4:41 PM


Kiski Area football coach Sam Albert starts every practice the same way.

He steps onto the field and yells the phrase, “It’s a great day to be a Cavalier.” But after a long layoff because of the coronavirus pandemic, the longtime coach was a little rusty when his team returned to the practice field Thursday.

“The kids were off the hook this morning,” Albert said. “I got out here a little late and they were all waiting on the field and I come onto the field and they go, ‘Hey!’ So I ran back off the field and stepped back on and said, ‘It’s a great day to be a Cavalier,’ and they went crazy. That was fun.”

After getting board approval Wednesday night, just seven days after Gov. Tom Wolf gave PIAA teams permission to resume voluntary offseason workouts, the Cavaliers returned to practice Thursday morning at Richard J. Dilts Field.

“Just to be back is awesome,” Albert said. “I love my kids.”

The team broke up into two sessions with skill players working in the morning between 10 a.m. and noon and linemen and tight ends coming in a half-hour after the first session wrapped up.

The players in each session donned Kiski Area Cavalier neck gaiters and broke up into groups of 10. For two hours, they ran through conditioning drills and also lifted weights. Any equipment that was used, including weight lifting equipment, was cleaned. Players used their own water bottles, tried to maintain acceptable social distancing policies and enjoyed their first day back on the field.

Thursday was just the start, though, as the Cavaliers will move forward and operate in three phases. During phase one, the current phase, they will have groups of 10 players in each session for the next 14 days. The players will stick to that group of 10, so if one player gets sick, the whole group will self-quarantine.

In phase two, group numbers will increase to 25, and Albert said the Cavaliers will start to get back into football-related activities while still complying to standards set in phase one.

In phase three, Albert said they will return to normal size practices. Albert commended the work of Kiski Area athletic director John Peterman in getting everything organized and approved.

“He called all the other high schools and worked the plan around for us,” Albert said. “I think it’s the best of both worlds, really, too. It’s really safe for the kids and then we also get to be together.”

Moving forward, the Cavaliers will work out Monday, Wednesday and Thursday with two groups like they did Thursday. Given the situation, and how long the kids have been off, Albert said the setup works great for the Cavaliers as they look to get back into a routine.

“This is good for us because the first 14 days is just getting back into the groove of things,” Albert said. “It’s all agility and conditioning stuff. We’re not putting any plays in. We’re not running any plays. We’re just getting back in shape.”

Albert said he was also excited to see who was coming out for the team and to get them acclimated to the program’s culture.

“It’s more about getting to meet all the new kids and working as a group, even though we’re in groups of 10,” Albert said. “You still get that camaraderie, and that’s important.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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