Ford City, Kittanning winter teams look forward to ‘last ride’ before school merger
Kittanning billed its final football season as the “Last Ride.” That means Kittanning and Ford City’s winter sports teams could have called Monday the opening of “Last Ride: Part 2.”
Official practices began Monday for tboys basketball, girls basketball, swimming and wrestling teams, and for the Wildcats and Sabers, that meant the first day of the final season for each of those sports at their school before the Armstrong High School merger.
At Kittanning, the boys basketball team was first on the court after school, and the enthusiasm was high.
“It’s sort of like a holiday for a basketball coach, the first day of regular practices,” Kittanning coach Bill Henry said. “You look forward to it, and every year it seems to come a little quicker. You always look forward to seeing who’s improved and who’s been putting the work in (during the offseason).”
Down the river at Ford City, it was the girls basketball team that got the first time on the court.
A handful of the Sabers girls players were a part of the Ford City volleyball team that claimed a WPIAL title little more than two weeks ago. After playing in the state tournament Nov. 4, there wasn’t much down time from one season to the next.
“I took one day off, I think,” senior Christina Davis said. “We had a Wednesday (basketball) workout the day after our playoff game, and I took that off. It’s always nice to be back on the basketball court.”
The start of practice means teams already are closing in on their first action.
The first day teams are allowed to play games or host meets is Dec. 5, though wrestling and swimming teams generally don’t begin until the next week. Preseason scrimmages can begin as early as Saturday, however, which means very little practice time before teams see their first opponents.
“Today at lunch, we were looking at the schedule, and our first scrimmage is a week from (Tuesday). I didn’t realize it was that soon,” Kittanning boys basketball senior Nathan Falchetti said. “I think we have the fundamentals down, but we’re working on defense, and it’s not much time for fine tuning to get everything ready.”
Kittanning and Ford City players recognize the historic significance of playing their school’s final season as well.
Most of those players had a chance to see what sort of attention came with that distinction for the fall sports teams, and many are eager to leave a positive impression in the upcoming season.
“Even working through the summer and in open gym, you could feel the intensity picking up,” Ford City boys basketball senior Blake Bower said.
“We’re the last senior class graduating from here, so you want to represent the whole town and the alumni that have been through here and played on the team. (Ford City) has 33 section titles, so you want to be able to keep it up for all of them.”