Justin Dugan (left) and Cole White attended the USA Football Academy to help prepare for their first season of 11-man football as seventh graders at Craig Middle School. Dugan and White said the camp improved their respective games and has given them a leg up on competition before the CMS season starts.

Michele Dugan/Courtesy

Justin Dugan (left) and Cole White attended the USA Football Academy to help prepare for their first season of 11-man football as seventh graders at Craig Middle School. Dugan and White said the camp improved their respective games and has given them a leg up on competition before the CMS season starts.

Craig youths participate in national football camp

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Quotable

“I learned more about how you need a good base to play on the defensive line, and as a tight end I realized how agile you need to be.”

—Justin Dugan, 12, about his experience at the USA Football Player Academy

Some local aspiring football players are looking to be at their best for their first season of middle school football.

Cole White and Justin Dugan, both 12, will be entering the seventh grade at Craig Middle School this fall, and plan on playing for the school’s football team.

For both players, it will be their first foray into organized, 11-man football.

Dugan and White have played in the Doak Walker football leagues, which are eight-man teams, before. They decided to get a jump on learning the new game by attending the USA Football Player Academy June 25-28 in Denver.

“I wanted to get better at football, so we just got online and searched for good camps,” Dugan said. “We found this one at South Denver High School and it was a pretty good camp. I learned a lot.”

The USA Football Player Academy is an NFL-endorsed individual skills camp that delivers position-based instruction for development.

It accomplishes this through on-field and classroom-style instruction, so young players can learn the finer points of the game.

At the three-day camp, Dugan spent time in the defensive lineman/tight end clinic and said he learned valuable skills for improvement.

“I learned more about how you need a good base to play on the defensive line, and as a tight end I realized how agile you need to be,” he said.

White plays quarterback, and said his instruction was eye-opening as well.

“We did some on-field practicing and then they would take us into the gym for this thing called chalk talk,” White said. “They teach you to read defenses and blitzes, which was pretty cool. It was tough, but a lot of fun.”

White said he thinks the camp is going to help him and white have an advantage in their first season of 11-man football.

“It was a lot of fun. It was pretty serious, but you have to remember to have fun, too,” he said. “Justin and I are going to have an edge compared to some of these other kids.”

Dugan was pleased with what he was able to learn about playing defensive end, a position he hopes to play at the next several levels.

“This camp is going to have me very prepared. I’m learning how much better I can be the defensive line,” he said. “I would love to be able to play college football, and this will help.”

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