by John Unrein
The week of July 22nd marked the opening of Grain Valley Varsity Football Camp. There’s strength in numbers and it’s a big man’s game are two football clichés that are often heard. They may both be true for the Eagles as they get closer to their season opener with the Grandview Bulldogs on Friday, August 30th.
Head Football Coach David Allie is happy to see the 93 student athletes who are participating in camp this week along with some of the noticeable size up front on both sides of the football for the Eagles. “Definitely bigger up front. Defensively last year we finished the season that big up front. Offensively, our size is good up front as well heading into the season.”
One of the new faces up front for the Eagles offensive line is Coleson Manade. The junior is competing to start at the center position. Mastering the art of the shotgun snap isn’t easy in the spread offense. Neither is communicating pass protection or run blocking schemes prior to the snap. All of this takes place prior to blocking an angry defensive tackle in front of you as the down unfolds.
Manade seems to take all of this in stride. “I think that I am taking steps forward with my footwork at the center position. We need to continue to improve our communication in checking on the guy next to us to make sure our understanding is solid so that all five of us (the offensive line) are on the same page. Watching film has been a good teaching tool in our growth as a unit.”
Not lost on Manade is that camp can be a grind. However, his perspective of things shows his positive outlook. “The weather is supposed to be beautiful this week and we get to go through this together as a team. I enjoy the challenge that we have to know all five positions along the offensive line,” Manade said.
Keeping teenagers engaged is a unique task during camp in that time must be taken to teach specific things to a high level of understanding while balancing physical activity to avoid lulls in concentration. Installation of special teams is one way that Coach Allie and his staff keep this equilibrium.
“We are doing the base installation of our special teams. We spend 25-30 minutes a day on that phase of the game. That’s a huge thing. This week is the last time we will see the kids for twelve days outside of weights next week. We are also reviewing our base offensive and defensive schemes while tweaking things that need to be addressed so that hopefully we have a good foundation in place for the start of things on August 12th,” Allie said.
Developing a roster to compete in the suburban conference is a year round task. Time only devoted to your 22 starters stunts the growth of your future. A week of varsity camp also allows for instruction to occur for underclassman so that their development is fostered.
“It’s through this camp until the jamboree that we have to spend time improving numbers 6 through 30 on our roster. Not just focusing on the top 5 kids you have on each side of the football. Doing this helps your competition and depth on your team. We also want to make sure that everyone knows what they’re doing to improve the confidence of the young men in our program,” Allie said.
Eagles July Varsity Football Camp will conclude with a scrimmage against the Indians of Fort Osage High School on Friday, July 26th.
Grain Valley High School football camp was held the week of July 22nd. 93 student athletes participated in the varsity camp. Photo credit: Valley News staff