By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com

PLYMOUTH – In due time, Wyoming Valley Conference football teams will be back on the field trying to beat each other, but Thursday’s Media Day was a shared effort, one of spreading the word about their conference and being happy to be back together in one room, talking about a common task – preparing for the season ahead.

At this time a year ago, Media Day was a canceled event and the start of official practice, which took place Monday with the beginning of heat acclimatization, was postponed.

“I just want to say, ‘welcome back’ to everybody, after last year’s challenges, playing the COVID-shortened season with all the restrictions,” Wyoming Area’s Randy Spencer, the head of the WVC Football Coaches’ Association, said when addressing nearly 100 players, coaches and media representatives in the Wyoming Valley West cafeteria.

Spencer pointed to what he thought might have been the biggest disruption to high school football in 2020.

His Warriors opened defense of their 2019 state title with fans looking over a wall from outside Anthony “Jake” Sobeski Stadium and, similarly, other teams played in empty or near-empty stadiums for much of the season.

“A major one, probably most likely for everyone, was not being able to play in front of family, friends and our communities,” he said. “We certainly have that sense, I know we do, of ‘welcome back’.

“I hope that’s the feeling of everybody.”

Spencer reminded the players of what it was like to have a shortened season.

“Most importantly, have a safe and successful season,” he said. “Enjoy every minute of it. We talk about it a lot, but sometimes we forget, ‘we’re only promised today’.

“Whether it’s practice; whether it’s game week; whatever it is, any moment you get to play football, soak it up, enjoy it, the experiences last a lifetime. Enjoy your time with your brothers, with your teammates in your program and with your communities. Let’s have a great, safe and successful season.”

Lake-Lehman coach Jerry Gilsky reminded those gathered that their battles with each other helped the conference in pursuing District 2 championships. The WVC split District 2 titles, three each, with the Lackawanna Football Conference in 2019 and won two of the six available titles last season.

“All of us working hard together and keeping the season going is key,” Gilsky said. “It’s about the WVC and we have to think about that when it comes to championships.”

Crestwood won a District 2 title in Class 4A last season. Wyoming Valley West, which was uncontested in Class 5A, was the other champion.

Crestwood was unbeaten champion of the WVC Class 4A Division. Williamsport was also unbeaten while winning the Class 6A/5A Division. Lake-Lehman went 7-1 in the regular season.

Some teams went directly from Thursday’s early afternoon media session to their practice fields.

Heat acclimatization drills continue this week. Full contact practices begin Monday and teams can scrimmage for the first time beginning Aug. 21.

The season is scheduled to open Aug. 27.