NFF holds football media day
As high school football teams were just beginning their first week of preseason preparation last week, the National Football Foundation’s Lehigh Valley Chapter held its first ever Lehigh Valley Football Media Day.
Coaches from all 33 teams in the NFF-LV area were invited to come to Northampton High School’s Erdosy Stadium with their team captains to talk about the upcoming season.
“I would say it’s about time,” Northwestern Lehigh head coach Josh Snyder said. “The Schuylkill League does a league event. I would love a Colonial League Media Day. For an organization to step up and have a Lehigh Valley media day is great. The kids deserve it. The program’s deserve it. It’s fun and it’s exciting.”
Parkland fullback/linebacker Nick Suriel, whose team is a six-time defending District 11 champion, said it was nice to see the competition on friendly terms before meeting them again with the pads on. But the event was more about celebrating the sport they love.
“This is cool to see our competition,” he said. “We know most of these kids in the Lehigh Valley. At the end of the day it’s all about everyone in the Lehigh Valley coming together for a sport they love.
The Trojans will be a favorite to continue their success, but several teams shouldn’t be too far behind, including last year’s Class 4A district champ Bethlehem Catholic, District 11 Class 6A finalist Freedom and an Emmaus team that returns most of its skill players and added transfer quarterback Ethan Parvel, who was one of the top QBs in the league last year at Whitehall.
“I’m excited because I have a bunch of great kids,” said Hornet head coach Harold Fairclough. “It’s one thing to have talented kids, but when they work hard and do what you ask them to do and seem to enjoy doing it with each other it seems to make a difference.”
Bethlehem Catholic is coming off a run to the state semifinals, where it lost to Imhotep Charter. Parkland got to the state quarterfinals in Class 6A, while Freedom entered districts as a six seed and reached its second consecutive district title game last season.
The Trojans graduated a lot of great players at positions all over the field, but that’s nothing new for the program and the returning players expect the incoming starters to help uphold the tradition of excellence.
“We graduated a few guys,” said Parkland senior running back/linebacker Joey Guida. “But we’re looking really strong this year and we’re bringing back a lot of talent. We have a lot of guys that really mesh well together. We should be a good very team this year and contend for the title.”
“We do have only 3-4 returning starters,” said Suriel. “The rest are newcomers that have to step up. I have been on varsity for three years now, this being my third. This is the most hard-working team I’ve seen. They know everyone is going to doubt us. What we lack in talent we’ll make up for in hard work.”
Suriel will take over for all-state linebacker Jahan Worth on defense. After getting plenty of reps at the position over the past two years, he’s ready to be the starter in the heart of the Trojans defense. And he’s been getting advice from his mentor all summer.
“I’ve talked to [Worth] a lot,” said Suriel. “The day before he left for college we spent three hours talking about football. He told me he has faith in me. Same with my older brother, Nick, he taught me a lot too.”
While he admits there will be pressure to keep the championship streak alive, Suriel also knows having that type of pressure is more positive than negative.
“You do feel the pressure, but at the same time you feel honored to play for the team,” he said. “There are all these players you can look up to like Devante Cross, Kenny Yeboah, Jahan Worth, all these great players you look up to and you can match their achievements and go above and beyond that. That’s always the goal – get that district title and make the state run.”
That’s what Parkland will try to do again this fall.