Note: Four of the five El Dorado County high school football teams are featured in this story. This year’s Golden Sierra High football team was featured in the Friday, Aug. 17 issue of the Mountain Democrat.
Four of the five El Dorado County high school football teams kick off the 2012 season on Friday, all non-league games.
El Dorado will host South Tahoe, Golden Sierra plays at Capital Christian of Sacramento, Oak Ridge makes the very short trek to Folsom to play at Vista del Lago and Union Mine entertains El Camino of Sacramento. Ponderosa will open its season at home Friday, Aug. 31 against Valley of Sacramento.
Throughout this year, in particular since May, all five schools have been preparing for the new season that includes taking part in full-tackle football camps over the summer. Here’s a look on how four of the five county schools performed at their contact camps. Omitted is Golden Sierra, which was featured Aug. 17 in the Democrat’s Sports section.
El Dorado — From June 29 to July 1, new Cougars head coach and athletic director Joe Volek and his team made the trip to the Fresno area to take part in the Mid-Cal Football Camp at Madera High. Volek said the bulk of the 50 varsity players made the journey. This season he has 21 players on the junior varsity squad and 30 on the freshman team.
El Dorado joined Rio Americano as the only area schools taking part at the camp.
“We worked with our own kids (in drills), then we had scrimmages,” Volek said. “We scrimmaged all the schools. I think we improved daily; every day we got better. I was proud of the kids.”
Washington Union, one of the Fresno area schools taking part in the camp that won the Central Section Division IV title last fall, was “very athletic,” Volek said.
When the players and coaches weren’t on Madera High’s football field, the Cougars hung out at the swimming pool of the hotel they stayed and visited various restaurants in the Fresno area.
“We had belly flop and cannon ball competitions,” Volek said. “We had the opportunity to do some bounding, and we were far enough (from Placerville) where we can be together.”
El Dorado finished the 2011 season with a 2-8 record and an 0-6 mark in the Sierra Valley Conference.
Oak Ridge — From June 18-21, Trojans head coach Eric Cavaliere and his coaching staff journeyed to San Diego to participate in the University of San Diego football camp.
“The camp went very well,” Cavaliere said. “We took 58 varsity players and came back with no injuries, a better football team, and a closer team in terms of team chemistry.”
With the team’s base offense and defense already in place before making the trip to Southern California, Cavaliere said the camp was a huge success.
“Our players competed at a high level for all four days, were incredibly well-behaved, and met or exceeded all expectations for a team camp,” Cavaliere said. “The camp provides us the opportunity to have four days in full pads and have full contact padded practices and scrimmages.”
Oak Ridge was the only school from the area taking part. The rest were from Southern California and Nevada.
“We were able to have full live scrimmages with each of these teams throughout our time there,” Cavaliere said.
There was very little “off” time at the camp, Cavaliere said. “It was football from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” he said. “When they did have time off, they are eating in the dining commons or relaxing with teammates in the dorms.”
Oak Ridge posted a 7-5 record last season that included a 2-3 mark in the Delta River League, but success in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, as the Trojans beat Burbank in the first round before losing to eventual section champion Granite Bay.
Ponderosa — From June 23 to 28, Bruins head coach Jason Tenner and his coaching staff and players went to Gold Beach, Ore. to take part in the annual Gold Beach Football Team Camp.
Tenner said 50 players made the long journey. His Bruins did “very well,” he stated.
“There were 13 teams at the camp and only a few from California,” Tenner said.
Ponderosa scrimmaged Vacaville, which won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title last fall, as well as schools from Oregon and Idaho. “Our boys did really well and held their own against the camps top teams peaking at the end of camp.”
Tenner added, “As a coach it was nice to see our team get better every day at camp. It was football from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. We practiced two times a day and had 7-on-7 each night.”
The players stayed busy when they were off the field, Tenner noted.
“During our down time, we’d take the kids to the beach or they just hang out with each other,” Tenner said. “It’s team bonding at its best.”
Ponderosa is looking to snap a 10-game Delta River League losing skid this season. Last season, the Bruins went 2-8, with both wins coming in non-league play against county rivals El Dorado and Union Mine.
Union Mine — From June 28 to July 1, Diamondbacks head coach/athletic director Dave Johnson, his coaching staff and 27 varsity players went to the Bay Area to take part in a football contact camp at Menlo College in Atherton.
Johnson was hoping his players would meet new Menlo College football coach Mark Speckman, who is considered in the football circles as the guru of the Fly offense in the United States. Speckman was born without hands, but that didn’t stop him from having a stellar performance as a high school and college football player in the 1970s before finding success as a head coach at Livingston, Merced and Golden Valley of Merced in the 1980s into the 1990s. He was the head coach at Williamette University in Oregon, before taking the job at Menlo earlier this year.
Just like the other El Dorado County high school football teams, it was all business for the Diamondbacks.
“As far as free time is concerned, there wasn’t much,” Johnson said. “It is not a social experience.”
The key was to improve on various techniques, which Johnson felt his players did just that while at the camp.
“We go to get better at playing football,” Johnson said.
Last season, Union Mine produced a 5-4 record that included a 4-2 mark in the Sierra Valley Conference, tied for second place with Cosumnes Oaks, and just missing a berth in the section’s D-V playoffs.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or email@example.com. Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.