Screven County coach Ron Duncan met a handful of players at 7 a.m. for three days in a row this past week. After the group met at the school, they embarked upon a 90-minute trek up to Columbia County.
Duncan said it was all worth it.
About 120 high school football players from 12 Augusta-area schools participated in the inaugural offensive/defensive linemen camp at Patriots Park. Duncan said the camp was beneficial in several ways.
“It costs a lot of money running a football program,” he said, citing the camp saved him from booking hotel rooms for another out-of-town camp. “Any time you can get good value in something, you’ve got to do it. We’ve had our linemen up here working for several hours each day in a padded-type environment with a little bit of contact. You can’t simulate that anywhere else for this value.”
Jefferson County coach J.B. Arnold, the Team Georgia coach for Border Bowl V in January, said he was contacted about holding a camp at Patriots Park, with the focus on offensive and defensive linemen. This week, several head coaches and assistant coaches worked three hours in the morning for three days. The football players received instruction, a T-shirt and lunch.
“There’s 7-on-7s all over the place,” Arnold said. “And to be honest, there’s a lot of o-line camps and very few d-line camps. So we wanted to get it off the ground this year. We’re going to get it bigger.”
Arnold said four people helped get the camp going: former Jefferson County School Board superintendent Carl Bethune, Robert Harn, Adam Brosious and Joey Harris.
“They’re the ones who wanted to get it started. Of course, they put all the work on me to get it done,” Arnold said, laughing. “It’s a great idea. We just want it to expand.”
Hephzibah coach William Harrell had 11 players in the camp. He said having coaches from other teams provide instruction was a major plus.
“It’s a great opportunity for our linemen to get contact,” he said. “But it also has a really good element in that they’re able to get instruction from other coaches. We oftentimes have an opportunity to be able to explain to kids what they need to do, but hearing it from another voice, a lot of times, makes a difference.”
Grovetown coach Damien Postell brought 10 players to the camp. Postell said he brought a first-year player who used this camp to develop his skills.
“He’s hearing from someone else and that’s being reinforced, and that’s been good for him.” Postell said. “I’ve seen improvement from him over the past two days. This being day three - and him learning some new techniques as well - this is helping him out big time.”