Even though the temperature has been hovering above 90 degrees for much of the last few weeks, Evan Prall has fall on his mind.
Of course, being the head football coach at Riverside, football may always seem on a coach’s mind, but Prall has extra reason to be looking ahead.
Prall will be the head coach of the County team in the 79th annual Dream Game, set for July 31, at 7:30 p.m. at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
“Double sessions are just around the corner,” Prall said. “It will be here before we know it.”
But before he gets to his duties at Riverside, he has a big role in the unofficial start to the football season.
“It’s going to be a great experience,” Prall said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to coach these kids.”
Prall was fortunate enough to have played in the Dream Game, and fondly remembers suiting up for the contest.
“At the time, the County had [Evan] Kraky [of Lakeland], and I didn’t get to play against him during the regular season,” said West Scranton graduate Prall. “It was nice to get the chance to play against him.”
Prall played for the City team that lost to Kraky and the County, 27-14, but as other players in the past have found out, life-long friendships can be made.
“One of the first things I’ve told the kids is the friends you can make,” Prall said. “One of the guys I had the opportunity to play with was Ryan Jones of North Pocono. I got to know him, and now he’s on my staff at Riverside.”
Even some foes Prall went up against in the Dream Game soon became teammates.
“Two opponents, Morris Jackson and Phil Ross, became teammates of mine in college,” Prall said of the two County players who went to East Stroudsburg.
So when he looks on the field and guides players from a wide variety of schools, like Abington Heights, Carbondale, Honesdale, Lackawanna Trail, Lakeland, Mid Valley, Old Forge, Valley View and Western Wayne, Prall will remember his own time in the Dream Game and how it impacted his life.
The Dream Game experience helped Prall tremendously in making the move from high school to college football. It was a first taste of playing outside your league, against other outstanding players.
“It’s tough. When you go to college, you have to pay your dues,” Prall said. “When you are 18 going up against 23-year-olds, it’s a new experience.”
Knowing one was selected as one of the top senior football players in the area goes a long way toward helping build confidence in one’s abilities, although it may come with an unusual caveat. Former rivals become teammates for one game, so the passion of a rivalry like the one Riverside and Old Forge has to cool down for at least one game.
“A lot of those kids are already talking,” Prall said. “It’s not only Old Forge, but other rivals like Lakeland. It’s an opportunity to have a real good experience.”
Prall is looking forward to the game, confident he has the players to run a slimmed-down version of the offensive scheme he employs at Riverside. Limitations to the defensive side of the ball could lead to a chance for a high-scoring game.
“Defense can’t stunt or blitz,” Prall said. “Line up, know what we’re trying to do, and see what happens.”
With his scheme in the hands of players from other schools, Prall gets the chance to evaluate options and new wrinkles that could perhaps carry over to the Vikings in the fall. With August coming,
Prall has football on his mind, and he will put the two-week head start to his season to good use.