Several high school football teams got a chance to test their skills locally this week as they prepared to transition from summer workouts to the 2013 season.
A seven-team camp at West High’s Steve Lopez Stadium drew more than 350 football players, who went through full-contact drills and scrimmages to demonstrate what they had learned during two and a half months of summer workouts.
West High senior defensive tackle Cody Correia said the camp reminded him that opponents will play with a level of speed and strength that he and his Wolf Pack teammates typically don’t see in practice.
"When we pick up that speed, we’ll be more game ready — faster, quicker, stronger," Correia said. "That’s what we need. We need to be more physical and we need to work on our technique."
The camp — scheduled for the last week before the Sac-Joaquin Section requires teams to take a three-week break from practicing on the field — drew squads from West, Kimball, Manteca, Ripon, Pacheco, Liberty Ranch and Dougherty Valley high schools.
Players ran seven-on-seven blocking drills and passing drills and full 11-man scrimmages.
Kimball High junior running back Rashaad Cooper said there were no surprises. He expected the other participants to put his team’s skills to the test.
"We’ve been practicing this stuff for months, so it’s good to finally get out and practice it against other teams," Cooper said.
West coach Chris Myers, in his first year leading the Wolf Pack varsity team, said he was finally able to confirm which of his players know how to execute plays and are tough enough for full-contact varsity football.
"The contact is new, and the level of competition is good," Myers said. "They’re getting to see a real-tempo scrimmage; we’re getting game-time experience and exposure to how to be tough.
"We’re further along than what I thought, as far as knowing what we’re doing offensively and defensively. We’ve still got a way to go."
Kimball High offensive coach Jarrod Teyshak said Tracy Unified School District is still seeking a new head coach for the Jaguar team, but players are learning from the assistant coaches and showing progress.
"There’s a long way to go, but today is the first day of pads and we saw some positive things," Teyshak said. "We have to reinforce the positives and correct the negatives and just learn how to play this game with some passion and have some fun."
This is the fifth year West has hosted the team camp. Former West coach Matt Loggins — who starts his new job as athletic director at Clovis West High School the first week of August — stayed to lead one more camp.
West High coaches created the camp in 2009 when the team’s usual summer team camp at Fresno State University was judged too expensive. Participants in the local camp pay $25 per player, which supports West High athletics.
"We saw socioeconomics at West change, and we didn’t want to only take half of our team because they can’t afford to go," Loggins said.
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