A field of 45 enthusiastic boys set to enter grades three through eight next school year, showed up July 11 to participate in the Payson Youth Football Camp.
Sponsored by the Town Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, the gridiron camp was held from 9 a.m. to noon three consecutive days on the Rumsey Park North multipurpose field.
On hand as teachers and coaches were head Payson High School coach Byron Quinlan, some of his staff members and several Longhorn varsity players including Josh Oakley, C.J. Nottingham, Chance Randall and Cade DeSpain.
Throughout the camp, the coaches put the young players through some of the same drills and conditioning exercises that varsity players undergo in their annual preseason camp.
Some campers were taken back by the demands.
“One came over to me and said, ‘I’ve never worked so hard in my life,’” Quinlan said. “I told him, ‘That’s good, go home and tell your mom that.’”
The camp program was based on fundamentals and emphasized individual instruction, hence the varsity players in attendance to help out.
Rules of the game were taught and players were drilled in position-specific techniques designed to enhance their game performance.
A goal of the camp, Quinlan said, was to help each child reach his full potential as a player and a young person.
Athletes of all skill levels were eligible to participate for the $30 registration fee.
On to varsity camp
With the youth camp at an end, the varsity athletes will now transform themselves from coaches to players for the Payson Summer Football Camp to be held July 18 to 22.
For it, an estimated 500 athletes from around Arizona will swarm into Payson where they will train during five days of grueling practices, weight lifting sessions, passing league play and conditioning drills.
Set to participate are athletes representing Mesa Red Mountain, Casa Grande, Kingman, Miami, Tucson Canyon del Oro and Payson.
Mesa Red Mountain coaches have indicated they will bring 200-plus players.
During camp week, players will sleep on cots, air mattresses, bunks and makeshift beds each player brings from home.
They will bed down in the Wilson Dome, Rim Country Middle School gymnasium and in the old Payson High School gymnasium.
During the day, each school’s head coach is responsible for overseeing his team’s practice sessions, but Quinlan will schedule times the teams may use the weight room.
Practices are usually “three-a-days” with a different focus on each session.
During the evening, usually under the lights at Rumsey Park or Longhorn Field, all six teams will get together for round robin 7-on-7 passing league games.