Big Blue football camp teaches young players gridiron fundamentals
On Thursday, a few minutes before a session of the Big Blue Football Camp started, there were hoards of kindergarten through eighth-grade players playing on the blocking sleds or a game of two-hand-touch.
Until the foghorn sounded.
As soon as the more than 60 players heard the blast at Moffat County High School’s practice field, there was no more yelling or playing. They all ran to the middle of the field and huddled.
For the last day of camp, the attentive players were ready to learn their next lesson on the gridiron.
Kip Hafey, MCHS varsity football coach, said players weren’t there just to learn rules of the game.
“It teaches them about sportsmanship, in addition to football skills,” he said. “It gets the kids moving and having fun while staying active.”
While the players are staying active by running drills, they are also picking up valuable lessons, Hafey said.
“You see a lot of kids who were struggling at the start, but each time out, they get better and better,” he said.
For the last day of camp, players were separated into teams for a game.
“For the week, we’ve been covering everything – offense, defense and special teams,” Hafey said. “These kids haven’t stopped working hard, and now they get to put all their skills together for a game of seven on seven.”
Hafey said every player who signed up for camp got to try every position but that one side of the ball was more popular than the other.
“It has to be defense – the kids love smacking the bags,” he said. “But we cover every angle.”
Players heard from Andrew Drake, a former Moffat County Bulldog and current wideout at Sterling College in Sterling, Kan.
“He talked to them about sportsmanship, and playing smart,” Hafey said. “He also talked to them about following their dreams. His dream was to play college football.
“He also took their questions – I think the one they wanted to know most was ‘Have you ever been laid out?'”
The Big Blue football program has grown since its formation in 2004.
“There are a lot of returning kids this year and several new kids,” Hafey said. “It just keeps growing. When we started five years ago, there were 20 or 25 kids, and now we’re up to 60.”
Some of the players from the original camp, who are now playing for the high school, served as camp coaches.
“Kids that were in the program are now back coaching,” Hafey said. “They remember as kids how they wanted to be one of the coaches.”
Junior Scott Mann, 17, is one of those players.
“I remember when I was here as a player, and I looked up to the coaches,” he said. “It’s weird being a coach now. I guess time flies.”
Mann, a wide receiver and free safety for the Bulldogs, said the camp gave young players a chance to burn off some energy while learning the game.
“It’s a lot of fun for the kids to get together and play some pigskin,” he said. “They get to come out, learn the basics, and have a lot of fun doing it.”
One player having fun was Julian Sipsey, 13, a Craig Middle School seventh-grader.
Sipsey, who normally plays linebacker, said he appreciated having the chance to try other positions.
“My favorite part was probably kicking,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind being a back-up kicker.”
It was Sipsey’s first trip to football camp.
“It’s all about having fun and making friends,” he said. “And it’s getting me pumped for next season.”
Football camp for high school players is scheduled for May 26 to 28 at the high school.
There is another camp in June.
Hafey said 49 players had signed up for a June 10 to 13 camp at the University of Wyoming.
The football team had a 4-6 record last year.
Hafey said there are a number of players returning for next year, including 10 to 15 seniors.
“The kids have been working hard, putting time in the weight room,” he said. “We’ll see where we’re at when we get to camp and play some of the other teams.”
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