King’s Fork coach puts kids through drills at gridiron camp

Published 8:56 pm Thursday, July 29, 2010

Out on the practice football field beyond King’s Fork High’s football stadium, a group of kids have been practicing and playing football from morning until early afternoon this week. Everyone’s braved the summer heat, especially for the last hour or two each day.

This is the second July King’s Fork head coach Joe Jones has run the Bulldog Youth Gridiron Skill Camp. He intentionally picked out this time of the football calendar so the young campers can go from the camp right into their first preseason practices for Pop Warner teams.

Most of the camp focuses on improving the kids’ conditioning, improving their individual skills and giving every player the opportunity to learn the fundamentals at every position, on offense, defense and special teams, on the field.

The last part of each day at camp is by design, too. Jones saves playing a scrimmage game for last, when the heat’s the worst and the attention span on the field, understandably so, might be waning.

“Sometimes when we’re running through drills, you can tell (the campers) start to drag a little. When we start playing football, playing a game, though, there’s no lack of hustle. They love their football,” Jones said.

“It’s been a good turnout. We’ve got more kids out here than last year,” Jones said.

And even the heat, while testing, at least hasn’t been of the record-setting variety this week.

On Thursday, the last day of the camp, about 30 minutes were spent on kickoffs and punting. Every player kicked, punted and returned kicks and punts.

“We want every kid to know at least a little bit about every position. Sure, some kids aren’t going to be a quarterback or running back, but it’s still important for them to see what it’s like to throw, catch and run with the ball,” Jones said.

And the other way around, even kids used to the glamour roles of quarterback, tailback or wide receiver should know the skill and work it takes by the guys in the trenches.

Most of the campers are Pop Warner veterans, but there were some rookies to the sport, at least organized football, at the four-day camp.

“A couple are new to football and at least they’re able to get a concept of getting ready to play on a Pop Warner team. I think it might be a bit surprising when they realize they’re going to have to put forth more effort than they thought,” Jones said.

Jones makes sure the camp is a lot more about teaching and learning to like the game versus perhaps what his Bulldog squads will face from time to time throughout August.

“We keep our barking to a very low limit. The last thing we want to do is run anyone off. We’re just trying to give them good skills before the season starts,” Jones said.

KF assistant coaches Jason Allison and Kenny Lokie coached throughout the camp, as did some Bulldog players. George Riddick, Lawrence Allen, Matt Hommell and Chuck Clark were out coaching the kids Thursday.

“It’s great for our players. It gives them a glimpse of what coaching is about and what we go through,” Jones said.

Earlier in the week, during a water break after the campers went through quarterback drills, Clark worked with a camper who wasn’t raising the ball up enough to throw it well.

“Just in a couple minutes, Chuck really helped him a ton right away. That type of thing is great to see,” Jones said.