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Rebounding Pleasantville Begins Football Practice

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – Pleasantville High football coach Tony Becerra had not experienced a losing season in a decade until last fall, and the memory of underachievement has motivated the coach and his Panthers to turn things around as they begin summer practices.

“The first priority was the make sure the team knew that we had to come with a different mindset if we were going to be successful again,” said Becerra at Monday’s morning practice session. “The over-riding factor for this team is confidence.”

Local football teams practice 11 days before taking part in scrimmages with other schools. The local high school regular season begins on Friday, Sept. 9 with a dozen games. Most of the remaining teams open on Saturday, Sept. 10.

Panther’s captains Michael Lanza and Kyle O’Loughlin are on the same game-plan page as their coach.

“What we’ve been doing all captain’s practice and before was dealing with our conditioning,” Lanza said. “Last year we weren’t in the best shape. The first game, after the first half, I was dead, in no shape to play football. You can have talent but if you’re not in shape you’re not winning football games. We start practice with condition and end practices the same way.”

O’Loughlin reinforced Lanza’s emphasis on condition and added that Panthers’ pride needed to be restored. “Also, we’re working on team comradery,” O’Loughlin said. “Last year there was a lack of that. We weren’t family like we should have been.”

Lanza said his teammates have been going all out in early practices. “We have the mindset now,” Lanza said. “We have the talent if we prepare and we can go all out for four quarters we’ll be successful.” Pleasantville opens its regular season at Putnam Valley High School, Friday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.

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