Cameron football team returns to the gridiron for first team camp (full story)
Editor's note: The following story published a week before the suspension of team camp due to a Cameron High School athlete contracting COVID-19.
A renewed sense of enthusiasm livens Dave Goodwin Field as the Cameron High School football returned to action Monday for the first day of their two-week camp.
Following a season where the Dragons had approximately 45 players on its varsity roster, Cameron returns in 2020 with more than 70 players and both athletes and coaches noticed a much different atmosphere on the field Monday.
“We want to start off this year where we left off last year with our tempo in practice,” Cameron coach Jeff Wallace said. “It has been two days of unbelievable practice. We had three seniors a year ago so we basically have the whole team back. They understand a good football team knows how to practice and we learned how to practice last year.”
With the Dragons picking up where they left off in 2019, the learning curb for incoming freshmen seemed steep. Within hours of taking the field for the first time, the Cameron Dragon offense spent much of the first practice running memorized plays from 2019. Wallace attributed his roster, stacked with upperclassmen, for dramatically increasing the efficiency of each practice.
“We will get four or five plays in in a minute. That allows you to get thousands of reps by the end of the year,” Wallace said. “A lot of other teams that don’t practice with that tempo don’t get that. That makes us a heck of a lot better than other football teams come playoff time.”
Although ending the season 5-6, 2019 seemed a turnaround season for the CHS football program. With just a handful of wins in his previous seasons as a CHS Dragon, lineman Wyatt Burnett noticed a stark difference in how the team approaches the offseason since Wallace began his tenure last year.
“There is definitely a lot of potential in a lot of people. We just have to get the [freshmen] ready for when it’s their turn to come up,” Burnett said. “It’s very nice to be able to stretch all of the muscles, knock off the dust and get back into it. It’s 1 percent (improvement) every day. I’m just trying to be ready and put some W’s in the win category.”
For senior quarterback Ty Campbell, he returns with nearly all of his receivers from last year. Although unable to participate in 7-on-7 competitions, he said the chemistry he developed with receivers last year carried over Monday.
“We lost one receiver and that was [Nick Helmich]. It feels good. We just picked up where we left off last year,” Campbell said. “It will be different considering [Ian Riley, senior receiver] grew about 2 inches and Ty and Bryson [Speers] also grew. They know the game now. They know all of the routes. We’re going to be really good.”
One unexpected position battle seems to be at kicker with sophomore Tryston Scott splitting time with the soccer team this year. Scott will battle senior Camren Hedgpeth for kicking duties, but Hedgpeth – a returning first-team all-Midland Empire Conference selection - may need a breather as he plans to once again play ironman as middle linebacker and left tackle.
“It’s definitely different not having the ball move and having to kick it off a tee. It’s a lot different,” said Scott, who spent much of the practice splitting the uprights from the 30-yard line.
The Dragons will continue camp through next Friday, then focus on the weight room before starting practice in early August. Barring any COVID-19-related delays, the team will see its first live action during the August 21 jamboree before opening the season August 28 against Northeast Kansas City.