New team, new record

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By MACKENZIE EBELING

 

The 2019-20 Varsity Football Team is holding a record of 5-1, as of September 27, beating Huntington, Philipsburg-Osceola, Central Mountain, Tyrone, and Clearfield. From the first steps out of the locker room to the first play of the game, each player anticipates the excitement of the night. 

“The atmosphere on Friday nights is unlike any other sport. When we come running on the field in front of the home crowd on that brand new field, it is truly electrifying,” junior Nick Capparelle said. 

Each new school year brings a combination of new and familiar faces of male athletes to the Bellefonte Football program.

“Each team differs greatly. This team thrives on the success of the previous three seasons. They strive to succeed at a level even greater than the teams that came before them,” Head Coach Shannon Manning said. 

The team has many returning players including senior CJ Funk. CJ has been a member of Bellefonte Varsity Football since his freshman year. With three years of experience under his belt, CJ feels confident and prepared going into his final year. 

“You can rep a lot of things in practice but all of that is a blur when you step on the field. The first few years prepared me just to go all out and trust my coaching in every situation thrown at me,” CJ said. 

No matter how much preparation goes into practices and the team, each season always comes with new obstacles to overcome.  

“Our main struggle has been replacing place-kicker Chris Persiko and All-State defensive-end Caleb Rockey. We helped convince Daniel Persiko to come kick for us and he has done a marvelous job so far. We can’t really replace Caleb, as he always had an effect on other teams’ offense,” Nick said.  

To prepare for each game, the team practices approximately twelve hours a week, each day focusing on something new to help prepare for Friday’s game. Monday’s focus is watching film of the previous game, discussing plays and what worked and what did not, along with lifting in the school’s weight room. Tuesday practices are devoted to offense, while Wednesdays are for defense. Each Thursday the team has a shorter length practice that reviews the plays they learned and the basics for the next day’s game. However, Coach Manning also has a lot to prepare for each Friday night football game. 

“As a head coach, the week requires constant preparation and planning. Everything from film breakdown of the opponent, planning practice locations, communicating with parents and players, and managing staff and players,” he said.

Along with communicating with the parents and players throughout the week about events and practices, Coach Manning and all other coaching staff talk to their players before each game. This pep talk consists of a common phrase the players hear before stepping out on the field every Friday night. The phrase is simply “do your job.” The coaches use this phrase to emphasize that every player has their own important responsibility in order to make the team successful. 

However, the coaches aren’t the only leaders of Bellefonte’s Football Program. The Senior Class also helps lead the team to victory. CJ is one of many senior leaders and knows what qualities a leader should have from past seniors on the team. 

“I feel like I’m a good communicator and I relay information well with everyone to make sure everyone’s on the same page. I just try to help everyone be successful in whatever their job is so the whole team succeeds,” he said.

Although the team will lose leaders like CJ next year, the Red Raider Football Team has a lot to look forward to in the future. 

Nick believes that, “the future of the team looks very bright. We will be returning all but five starters, so we will have a lot of experience but we will also have some big roles to fill.” 

Success each season isn’t exclusive to the players though; the parents, fans, cheerleaders, and Raider Nation all show support for our school. The community and players coming together on fall Friday nights is one of Coach Manning’s favorite parts of coaching Red Raider Football. 

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to represent a program so closely tied to our community and student body,” he said.