By Taylor Grafft
Fall football practice is almost here, Panther fans. While we continue to countdown one of the most important times of the year, the Liberty Hill coaches and some of their younger Panthers took a quick three-day break from their summer vacations to participate in the 2014 Panther State Championship Football Camp.
The camp is designed for incoming seventh graders through incoming freshmen and was hosted at Panther Stadium Monday through Wednesday.
The camp gave Head Coach and Athletic Director Jerry Vance and his assistant coaches an opportunity to meet and build relationships with some of the future Panthers. Coaches also met a majority of the players who will make up the freshman team in the fall.
The camp goal is to help coaches and kids decide which positions they should be playing in the fall. The students have an opportunity to learn over the course of the three days the proper techniques, formations, alignments and mechanics at their respective positions.
“I thought camp went well,” said Coach Vance. “Our eighth and ninth graders retained what they were taught last year and that allowed for us to move forward with them and run things smoother.”
Coach Vance estimated that around 120 Panthers showed up for camp this week and he and the other coaches were excited about the positive attitudes and strong work ethics that the kids brought with them.
“I was very pleased with the turnout,” Vance said. “I saw a lot of enthusiasm from the seventh graders especially, a lot of excitement. During camp we try to work on the same things with our younger kids that we work on with the older kids so that they have some continuity throughout their football careers.”
Coach Vance also talked about the importance of the kids learning terminology as quickly as they can. He said the junior high players who were in this camp were able to be a step ahead of the kids that were not present at camp.
New offensive line coach Rudy Acevedo gave his perspective his first Panther State Championship Football Camp.
“I’m really enjoying the camp,” Coach Acevedo said. “The first thing I noticed was they all had really good attitudes, saying ‘yes sir, no sir.’ I met a few of the freshmen and I was very impressed.”
The camp participants also battled the Texas heat while trying to practice and learn their stances, techniques, and fundamentals. However Coach Vance explained that the kids would have to learn to deal with the heat if they wanted to play and be successful.
“I was telling the kids (at camp) that heat is just a part of the deal in Texas,” Vance said. “If they’re going to play the best football in the country, which is in Texas, they’re going to have to put up with the heat. The kids know that and when I send out letters to them and their parents, I tell them to make sure to get out in the heat and get their bodies used to sweating and being uncomfortable. I urge them to drink a lot of water and not to stay at home on the couch.”
Coach Vance also talked about the importance for the players to build strength, speed, and endurance during the summer months and continue to stay in shape.
“Our kids come out way ahead than most other programs that let their players go to their own gym or trainer or whatever,” Coach Vance said. “From what I’ve seen the kids are in very good shape. I think we’re stronger than last year.”
Last year, the players and coaches had to deal with the transition of moving from the old high school and old fields, to Panther Stadium and the new athletic facilities. Now he says it makes it easier on them to have continuity and not have to spend as much time getting things ready.
Fall football practice starts on Monday, August 4, with two-a-days as the coaches and kids prepare for the upcoming season.
The Liberty Hill Panthers have their first scrimmage at 11 a.m. Saturday, August 9. The Panthers play La Grange in their home opener on August 29.