Springville senior Devin White-Kearns, left, runs a drill at quarterback during the Griffins’ team mini camp Aug. 4-7. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
It wasn’t the official start of the High School football season in Western New York, but it sure felt like it.
The Springville-GI football program hosted a mini camp Aug. 4-7, which is becoming a popular trend among schools in Western New York, giving teams a head start on the season.
Springville’s modified, junior varsity and varsity team took part in the four-day mini camp, wearing helmets and shoulder pads. The mini camp involved minimal contact and wasn’t mandatory for players, however, that didn’t stop 45 players and seven coaches from taking part.
“It felt great to get back out there as a team,” Springville senior quarterback Devin White-Kearns said. “All the guys are together having some fun and getting some work done while other teams are just sitting around.”
Alden hosts a similar camp annually while SUNY Buffalo State hosted St. Joes, Cleve Hill, Grand Island, Frontier, Sweet Home, Cheektowaga, North Tonawanda, Canisius and Will-South this year for a team camp.
“It’s definitely a growing trend,” Springville head coach Rob Valenti said. “Buff State is probably the leader in that, where there’s a lot of teams that will go to a Buff State camp to get reps and compete against other schools.”
Springville invited other teams to join its organized mini camp, but scheduling conflicts affected other schools from making the trip. Springville was happy to get together as a team before training camp begins on Aug. 18.
“This camp means a lot,” Valenti said. “It brings the kids together for a number of reasons. It builds camaraderie, it builds unity amongst ourselves, as a staff and as a program. It furthers their football education and their Football 101... It’s a lot of learning. I really think it’s going to put us ahead of the curve going into camp.”
The four-day mini camp was broken down into the three facets of the game — offense, defense and special teams. The morning session was set aside for offense, which worked on individual position drills, unit work and then finished with a team 11-on-11.
From offense, Valenti and his coaching staff transitioned to special teams — working on punt, punt return, kickoffs and extra points. The second part of practice was devoted to defense, which mirrored the same format as the morning session.
“I’m not sure you can quantify how valuable this [mini camp] is, but it’s high up there,” Valenti said. “We have about 40 kids learning all of aspects of the game. They’re learning fundamentals, plays, terminology and they’re building relationships with coaches and teammates. It’d chalk it up as being invaluable right now.”
In other news, Rodney Szudzik will be helping out the program as a volunteer assistant to the coaching staff. Szudzik will be videotaping every practice to allow coaches to access the team, as well as giving players the opportunity to access themselves.
The popular video software, Hudl, has been renewed and will be used by the Springville football program for the third-straight season. Hudl enables players and coaches to view game tape of themselves and opponents on an online database.
Hudl is aided by Thumbs Up, a scouting service that has partnered with Section VI and will tape every Springville game and its opponents’ games in High Definition. Those game tapes can then be uploaded into Hudl. This is the second season that Springville is using Thumbs Up.
The Springville Education Foundation and a sizable donation by Horschel Brothers Precision helped purchase an end zone camera for the team this season. The end zone camera captures a near-aerial view of the game, helping coaches evaluate games even more using the unique angle to see the entire field.
Springville begins official practice on Aug 18.
“To have the start of our season basically on the doorstep, I can’t wait, ” Valenti said.