Cornell High School in Coraopolis, a suburb of Pittsburgh, is a small school. In fact, it’s so small that officials long ago shuttered the school’s football program because it was a loss-leader for the school’s athletic department. Now, after four years away the sport has returned, and it has done so with a bang.
As chronicled by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Cornell opened football practices on the first day for schools in the WPIAL, and it instantly had 36 players ready to compete for the school’s team. Much of the program’s equipment was donated, including the practice jerseys from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ed Dawson, who is serving as the Western Pennsylvania school’s head coach, said the level of familiarity with the sport has created some interesting scenarios.
“Some kids have never worn a helmet,” Dawson told the Tribune Review. “We tried to work on a little bit every day after weightlifting. Just fundamentals; that’s all we’ve been stressing. We just try to make sure everybody’s fundamentally sound and then hopefully let the talent take its course.
“Everyone says, how many games are you going to win? I just want to compete. The rest will take care of itself.”
As for the players themselves, there’s little doubting the enthusiasm for a sport that can sometimes define American high school culture, but at Cornell previously left an empty void.
“All these kids are committed,” said junior Ty Luster, a basketball player who was enticed to try football. “Once I started playing, I couldn’t wait until camp.”