Football season starts in summer for prep teams

High school football players from around Western Colorado stretch before the morning’s drills at Mesa State College’s football camp Monday.

The ground work for a football championship in December is laid in the summer.

Monday at Mesa State College, six high school teams were taking part in the Mavericks’ high school team camp, which runs through Wednesday.

The camp is full pads and full contact, which allows teams to get a sneak preview of what they might have during the fall.

“It’s always been good for us to go to a full-contact camp,” Fruita Monument coach Bill Moore said. “The kids get to know what it’ll be like in August, and they find out the things
they need to work on during the summer to be better players come August.”

Fruita Monument, Paonia, Basalt, Montezuma-Cortez, Eagle Valley and Steamboat Springs entered the camp. Although there is no limit of teams that could enter the camp,

Mesa State coach Joe Ramunno said he likes to keep the size small, a perspective he took when he was coaching at Palisade High School in the 1990s. 

“I like to keep it where the teams can get a lot of reps,” Ramunno said. “That’s the type of camps we used to go to at Palisade, and they allow you to work on team activities, and the emphasis is getting better as a team.”

Fruita enters the Mesa camp with the agenda of installing a new offense and defense. The Wildcats attended the University of Wyoming camp last year, but Moore said it was a better idea to stay close to home despite being a larger classification than every other team.

“We are back to basics this year,” Moore said. “Installing a new offense and defense, it’s going to take a little bit more patience, so coming here will give us that opportunity.”

The camp also helps the teams get familiar with who will be playing.

The Wildcats lost several key seniors to graduation, including quarterback Brett Nankervis and tight end Scott Miller. Anthony Martin is a returning lineman who said the summer camp allows the team to see who they have.

“We are trying to find our starters,” Martin said. “The coaches want to see what we have, and what we have gained from last season.”

The first official practice for high school fall sports is Aug. 17.

Mesa State will offer another opportunity for high school players in its skills camp, another full-pad camp, July 18. The annual youth football camp is Aug. 3-4.

The camp gives the Mavericks’ coaching staff an early look at potential recruits.

Steamboat Springs has become a regular at the camp, and Sailors coach Aaron Finch said his team uses the four days as a chance to not only work on strategy, but also parade its talent for the Mesa coaches.

“If we are going to have guys continue to play in-state, it’ll be at the Division II level,” Finch said. “So this is a great opportunity for them to showcase their skills in front of a really good D2 coaching staff.”


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