Quaker Valley football team bolsters offseason workouts with CrossFit training

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Sunday, May 12, 2024 | 11:01 AM


The third week in May is an important time for the Quaker Valley football team.

QV will hold its annual “spring ball” program from May 20-23 with daily practices at Chuck Knox Stadium running from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Helmet distribution will take place May 19 at the field house.

At spring ball, players can prove themselves on the football field and display their abilities for the first time since the end of the 2023 season.

“We hold a spring ball to install our base offense, defense and special teams,” QV coach Jason Cappa said. “Spring ball also gives us a chance to evaluate new players from ninth grade and new upperclassman who joined the team this offseason.

“Our goals and expectations are from a competitive standpoint. We are looking to not only install and acclimate new players but also evaluate players through competition. We have a lot more depth in skill positions then we’ve had the last four seasons, so we are able to get top-level talent going up against top-level talent this year. We want to see how they compete and where everyone fits going into our summer.”

Spring ball serves as a building block for all of the team members, leading into summer practices and the fall season.

“The main goal is having a solid foundation of what our culture is,” Cappa said, “and having a clear understanding of our base offense, defense and special teams.

“We will go through a normal practice schedule similar to the season. This is to make sure the new players get familiar with the practice routine. For the new players, we have adjusted a couple of things so it is good for them to learn the routine, as well.”

Spring ball actually is not the first step in preparing for the 2024 season. Players on the QV football team participated in an indoor weight and speed training program during the winter months.

“We had great attendance from our middle school (students) and athletes not involved in basketball and wrestling,” Cappa said. “We’ve lost about 25 players from the weight room to spring sports. I love that our players are multi-sport athletes. Our football program promotes multi-sport athletes.”

Two of the multi-sport athletes at QV are seniors Dom Cox-Giles and Jack Diemert.

Cox-Giles is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound wide receiver/linebacker who also competes for the QV boys basketball team. He is a three-year starter on the gridiron.

“It’s my senior year (in 2024-25) and we haven’t made the playoffs yet,” Cox-Giles said. “It starts in spring ball. The best part of spring ball is meeting the incoming freshmen and becoming a role model to them.

“We are going to have a nice team. We are going to have a lot of incoming freshmen that are ready to get to work.”

Diemert is listed as a running back/athlete on offense and a linebacker/defensive back on the other side of the ball. He is a multi-year starter in football.

Diemert also has wrestled for three years. After starting out 9-1, he logged a 30-15 record with 15 falls in 2023-24 and owns a 75-45 career mark. He advanced to the WPIAL tournament in the 145-pound weight class.

“My expectations for spring ball are to come in with good intensity and to get to work,” Diemert said. “The best parts of spring ball are the competition and getting ready for the season. Also, just hanging and bonding with the team and becoming better as a group.”

Assistant coach Mike Knochel (OL/DL) runs the offseason lifting program for the QV gridders. And it’s “all business.”

“We attend a Crossfit gym two days a week and will continue doing so through the summer months,” Cappa said. “Coaches Christian and Ashley (Pope) at MindFire Fitness in Sewickley have opened their doors to our team to provide training times for football only.

“Their training is sport specific and already has our players disciplined and excited about wanting more.”

Mark Knochel is QV’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator; Shad Stepp is the offensive coordinator.

Other assistants in the varsity program consist of Bob Patterson (running backs), Johnny Knochel (offensive/defensive lineman), Jeff Behr (defensive backs) and James McHenry (special teams coordinator).

Cox-Giles will be a second-year starter in basketball following the 2024 football season.

“From what I saw in the weight room, they were working hard,” Cox-Giles said.

Diemert believes the training program will prove beneficial as early as the 2024 season.

“The winter lifting and conditioning program has been great,” he said. “We got into CrossFit to stay strong and in shape, and I think we are really going to be an explosive team this year.”

Getting back to “wanting more,” the QV gridders are looking to put last season behind them and carve out at least a few more victories this fall. QV finished 1-9 overall in Class 3A in 2023.

“When you win one game the past two seasons, the goal is learning how to win,” Cappa said. “We have a group of leaders who have changed the culture to think in terms of the team’s success over individual successes.

“We have a bunch of great leaders this year (ranging) from underclassmen to seniors.”

Cox-Giles offered a few early 2024 predictions for the Quakers.

Quaker Valley football is going to be great this year,” he said. “We’re going to be hype; we’re going to go out there and play the game right.

“We have a lot to prove. People have been counting us out for years. We’re hungry and working hard every day.”

Diemert is hoping that winning becomes contagious.

“My expectations for the team are to have a pretty solid start, to come out hard and strong,” he said, “and to put some wins on the board.”

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