Saxon football hosts team camp; 30 high school players attend
ALFRED, NY -- The Alfred University football program hosted its 16th annual Gridiron Champions Football Camp for high school teams July 7-11 and July 14-18. Central Square, Corning, Cornwall, Raritan (N.J.) and Webster-Thomas high schools participated in the first week. Maple Grove and Victor high schools participated in the second week.
A total of approximately 300 high school players, along with 40 coaches (from the AU and participating high schools’ coaching staffs) participated in the two sessions.
Camp days consisted of two or three practices on Merrill Field, competitions, scrimmages, classroom discussions, weightlifting sessions, swimming, activities and meals served on campus. Players stayed in campus residence halls and AU football coaches and the coaching staffs of the attending schools served as camp instructors.
The camp encouraged team building and gave the players a taste of what to expect of college campus life. The schools’ head coaches said the camp allows them to evaluate talent, install new offensive and defensive schemes and build camaraderie among their players. They also praised the Alfred football staff’s hospitality and services.
“Coach (Dave) Murray and the Alfred staff are aces,” Raritan head coach Anthony Petruzzi commented. His program has attended annually since 1998, the inaugural year of the camp. “They give you everything that you need to be successful. The camp gives us a measuring stick of how our season is going to go.”
“I don’t think there’s another camp quite like this,” said Corning head coach Tim Hughes. “It’s very tiring for the players, but in the end they know they’re becoming better football players.”
Coaches value the camp because it gets their players away from the distractions of home and allow them to concentrate on football.
“You get the kids away from their home environment,” said Cornwall head coach Marcus Hughes. “You stay the night and come together. The competition is great. You get to do what you really want to do with your team. The players love it.”
“It’s nice to get away and have the week just focus on football,” says Scott Deuschle, Webster-Thomas head coach and an Alfred University graduate.
Coaches also pointed to team-building as a benefit of the camp.
“It’s a chance to develop team chemistry and camaraderie and concentrate on football for four days,” says Central Square head coach Matt DiCarlo. “There are no distractions. The facilities and the coaches are great. Our kids love coming.”
Added Deuschle: “This is definitely worth while not only for team-building experience, but also for us to get know our players outside of school.”
Of course, being able to prepare early for the upcoming season is high on the coaches’ list of the camp’s benefits. While most schools start their regular preseason practices in mid-August, teams attending the AU camp get a head start that puts them ahead of schedule.
“It’s a great preseason to our preseason,” says Victor Head Coach Geoff Mandile. “We get our offense, defense and special teams installed so when we officially start on Aug. 19, we hit the ground running. The players understand the importance of it.”
“This camp is vital in the process of bringing us together and to get everybody on the same page,” says Maple Grove Head Coach Curt Fischer, whose program is preparing for its first season merged with the Chautauqua Lake School District. “Along with working hard, the players still have fun. It’s a first-class operation.”
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