Basketball season will tip off this Friday, and with it, comes some changes.
The major change will be a new alignment in the Lackawanna League, a league that now festures four divisions instead of three.
Old Forge and Riverside will be a part of Division III along with Carbondale Area, Dunmore, Holy Cross, Lakeland and Mid Valley.
"Lakeland comes in at a good time, they have a lot of good players," said Old Forge boys' basketball coach Al Semenza. "We lose Valley View, we had a pretty good rivalry with them, but they are triple A and probably where they belong. Other than that the division is pretty much intact."
Riverside will have a new coach this season as Andrew Bennie takes over for longtime coach Mike Morgan. While aspects of this season will be different, not much will change at Old Forge as the Blue Devils will continue to play schools larger in size and coach Semenza will be pacing the sidelines.
"We are coming off a rough year last year," Semenza said. "Most of the division has just about everybody back. Just look on paper and you see a lot hasn't changed, they have the same players, the same results will happen. I don't believe that."
Coach Semenza doesn't feel like his team will have the same type of season they had last year. The Blue Devils had a losing season for the first time in quite some time and didn't win the PIAA District 2 Class A title breaking an impressive five-year streak.
"I think last year we were a few possessions away from turning a 1-7 (second half) record into a 4-3 second half record," Semenza said. "I expect us to perform a lot better than we did last year."
The Blue Devils will have some players coming back from last year who saw a lot of playing time. Brian Tomasetti had a good basketball season last year and then had an incredible football season for Old Forge. Brendan Wahl and Jake Manetti also played quality minutes last year and take to the hardwood after having great gridiron seasons.
Jimmie Aversa also saw a lot of playing time last year and should be a key member to the team this year.
"It is tough to say," coach Semenza said about what the starting lineup will be. "It looks as if there will seven or eight guys in our rotation. We are going to run a little bit more than we have in the past and we are going to have to rely on our defense."
There are several new players that joined the roster this season and a lot of football players are getting into the swing of basketball after playing a long footballseason.
"Their basketball skills have to develop as we go along," Semenza said of the football players. "It is going to be more about determination and fight. I think it will be two or three weeks before we get into shape."
Old Forge will open the season Friday night at Wyoming Area as they play the Warriors in the annual Anthony "Badger" Marseco Memorial Game. The Lackawanna League will begin play after the new year.
The Blue Devils will play Riverside for the first time on Saturday, Jan. 5, at Riverside High School. It will be first time Semenza will coach against his former player and first-year Riverside coach Bennie.
"On a personal level, it changes somewhat in that now there is a former player of mine that I am close to," Semenza said. "It is going to be interesting and a lot of fun, I think, but make no doubt about it, we are both going to want to win."