LINE DRILL WARM-UP - Devon Hurst, 8, of Placerville prepares to throw the ball while Devynn Cadigan, 14, of Placerville, left, looks on at the El Dorado High School Junior Cougar Football Camp at the high school on July 22. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene


Cougars give back at youth football camp

By From page A8 | July 31, 2013

As El Dorado High varsity football coach Joe Volek looks to the upcoming football season, he keeps an eye on the future.

Last week, approximately 70 youth football players ages 6 to 14 took part in the El Dorado Jr. Cougars Football Camp, held at the school’s football field.

Coupled with the youth cheer squads that according to Jr. Cougars President Colleen Youngblood number 32, more than 100 kids are in the program that feeds into El Dorado.

Volek feels the best way for the Jr. Cougar gridders to learn the game is running the similar offensive and defensive schemes that the varsity, junior varsity and freshmen teams utilize. Besides the lessons learned on the field, Volek likes the program’s connection to the community.

“It is a great opportunity for our football players to give back and for our youth in Placerville to learn our style of football,” Volek said. “This is our way of saying thanks and working with youth, our future Cougar football players.”

Dan Bell, vice-president of the Jr. Cougars, said his youth football coaches appreciate the high school players working with the younger kids in learning the running, catching and tackling basics.

“The high school kids have been a great help,” Bell said.

Gage Raley and Dominic Morgan, both returning senior linemen, worked with their Jr. Cougar counterparts.

“It’s rewarding,” Raley said. “Every time you teach them something new, they just go after it. They are like sponges; we tell them something and they just soak it up and do it. It’s pretty cool.”

Morgan added, “You see them improve throughout the day. “They will have no trouble picking it up in high school and that’s really going to be good for our program.”

For the first two days of the camp, Volek, his coaching staff and players worked with the Jr. Cougars coaching staff to teach the basic concepts of the high school program’s offensive and defensive schemes.

“The Jr. Cougar Staff will work with the varsity staff and work on basic football techniques that we teach at El Dorado High,” Volek said. “We will focus on offensive techniques: blocking, catching and throwing.”
On the second day of the camp, the players focused on defense.
“The campers will work on very basic tackling techniques,” Volek said.
Though the Jr. Cougars use the same offensive and defensive plays that the high school program use, it’s simplified for the younger players.
“We share the same play book,” Bell said. “Different stages of the playbook, level wise.”
For the rest of the week, campers did drills and focused on basic football with their Jr. Cougar coaches.  The players were separated onto their respective teams — Junior Pee Wee, Pee Wee, Novice, Junior Midget and Midget — and worked on plays with their coaches.
“We will be working on 40 yard dash timing,” Bell said. “It’s a little bit more individual practices than what we’ve done the last two days.”

Bell said more than 90 percent of the players in the program participated in the program and their enthusiasm was displayed throughout the camp as the upcoming season approaches.

“They are having a good time,” Bell said. “We’re ready to start hitting.”

Kai Schaefer, 11, who plays quarterback on the Jr. Cougars Junior Midget squad, felt the camp was fun.

“This is my third year,” said Schaefer, referring to the number of years he’s been playing in the youth football program. “It’s been a very good experience … the quarterback has to take charge.”

Dustin Roberts, 7, is a running back on the Jr. Cougars Junior Pee Wee team, has been learning a lot about offense at the camp.

“Run and catch the ball,” said Roberts who knows what he wants to do when he gets the handoff from his quarterback.

“Go for the touchdown,” he added.

Bell and Volek feel the high school program that produced many winning teams in the 1970s and 1980s, including the 1983 section title, will return and doing so starts with the Jr. Cougars.

“To make the high school better, we have to have a feeder program for our boys to be ready for that high school level,” Bell said. “Make El Dorado what it use to be.”

Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter. 

Mike Bush

Mike Bush has been a Staff Writer at the Mountain Democrat since August 2011. Follow him on Twitter @MBushMtDemo
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