Two football greats, including a former El Dorado High football player who donned the San Francisco 49ers’ uniform and the other the father of El Dorado High football coach Joe Volek, were a part of the recent annual five-day summer El Dorado Jr. Cougars Youth Football Camp at the Cougars’ football field.
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Members of Volek’s coaching staff from all three teams — varsity, junior varsity and freshmen — and Cougar varsity players worked with their Jr. Cougar counterparts.
According to Volek, the camp had approximately 80 youth attendees, ages 6 to 14, who participated at the non-contact camp. Last summer, 70 kids attended.
Including the 35 cheerleaders for the four Jr. Cougars cheer squads, there are approximately 115 kids participating on the Junior Pee Wee, Pee Wee, Junior Midget and Midgets squads this year.
The camp had players build on their skills based on the position they’ll play this season. Offensive and defensive linemen learned proper blocking techniques; running backs fought or created running lanes; defensive backs and safeties played the “outfield” of watching the offense run or pass the ball; and quarterbacks honed proper techniques in calling plays, handing off the ball and play-action passes.
The first day of the practice was dedicated to defense. Volek and his coaching staff taught the young Cougars the base 3-5 defense that the three El Dorado High football teams run.
“They worked on stance, angle tackling, base things,” Volek said.
Tackling without players using their heads, which has been the leading cause of concussions in football from the youth to the NFL, was also stressed at the camp.
“We want our kids, even at the youth level, to understand the head is not part of the tackle, and how to do it appropriately,” Volek said.
On the second day of the camp, the youth grid players turned their focus to offense.
“They are aware of our hurry-up style offense,” Volek said. “Stance, start, blocking — just base fundamentals.”
The remaining three days of the camp had the Jr. Cougars coaching staff working with the kids.
“They take over, and implement all of the things we are doing,” Volek said. “It’s their time to take a look at what their kids can do.”
Former El Dorado High football standout Skip Vanderbundt, a linebacker who played at Oregon State, then played for and the 49ers from 1969 to 1978, spoke to the campers.
“He talked to the kids on what football meant to him,” said Volek about part of Vanderbundt’s speech to the kids. “He talked about how he played in the NFL and he had fun, and knew how to work hard.”
John Volek, father of Joe Volek, also attended and spoke to the kids. John Volek produced winning seasons at Fresno City College and Sacramento State in the 1980s and 1990s. From 2003, Volek was the Sierra College coach in Rocklin until 2011 when he retired.
“He (John) talked about how football can take you where you wanted to go (and) it’s such a great vehicle to get an education, to graduate from high school, and maybe go on to play in college,” said Joe Volek.
Aron Hunt, president of the Jr. Cougars, said, “The camp was a great success. Our high school coaching staff has so much to offer. We’ll make sure we’ll have Cougar ready players for high school.”
Last season, El Dorado made the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time since 1987 with a 6-4 record. The success of that team has permeated into the feeder program, Volek notes.
“It’s continually growing,” Volek said. “I think our youth football program will continue to get better. Football is such a fun game.”
The Jr. Cougars will kick off their season Saturday, Aug. 30 at El Dorado’s field, hosting the four Mesa Verde Jr. Maverick teams.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.