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While VHSL by-laws prohibited the high schoolers from practicing in late July, there was nothing to prohibit them from sharing their knowledge with the younger set.
At both Staunton River and Jefferson Forest High Schools, the varsity and JV players put the young fellers through the paces at summer football camps.
Both camps drew approximately 80 campers. Both featured the high school programs’ coaches and players.
“We want our system learned from the youngest ages,” said Staunton River Head Coach Rick Witt. “We want the younger players to be involved earlier.”
An example of that involvement at a young age is Michael Meyers, a six-year old aspiring Staunton River Golden Eagle.
“I want to learn more about football,” said the exuberant lad, when asked about his presence at the camp.
When queried as to what he enjoyed most, Meyers replied, “I like that we get to tackle people.”
Wesley Gates, a multidimensional player for the Eagles, seemed to relish his role in mentoring the young campers.
“I like to see the kids improve,” said Gates, who was focused on teaching the basics, such as breakdowns and stances.
The senior noted that he hadn’t had the chance to attend such a camp when he was younger. “That’s why this camp is so important to me,” he added.
Tyler Biller saw the camp as a way to get acquainted with some newer aspects of the game He found his introduction to the Staunton River gridiron to be an enjoyable one. “It’s fun,” he said. “I’m learning new stuff, like positions.”
Biller had already narrowed his choice of positions to middle linebacker and safety.
Almost as important, the young transplant from Shenandoah County liked that he was able to meet new people and make some pals. That’ll pay off when he starts up with the rec league Eagles, an 11-12 year old squad.
Offensive guard and defensive end Mike Karnes liked what the turnout said about the prospects for Staunton River football. “They’re the future,” said Karnes, pointing at a group of campers. “Also, teaching at the camp is fun. I love football and want to be around its atmosphere.”
While the campers were, for the most part, put through drills and taught some of the fundamentals of the program, the weather didn’t fully cooperate.
With storm clouds looming, the campers were herded into the field house where they got to do (gulp) calisthenics.