Liberty Hill Football Camp kicks off July 30
By Keith Sparks
From July 30-Aug. 1, young Panther football players will have an opportunity to learn the game directly from the Liberty Hill High School and Liberty Hill Junior High coaches at Liberty Hill Football Camp.
Head Football Coach Jeff Walker said the camp, which is open to incoming sixth- through ninth-graders, will cover the basics of football, from learning how to warm up all the way to an introduction of their offensive and defensive schemes.
“We just get them accustomed to football,” Walker said. “It starts pretty basic with our warm up stuff, how we warm up and that kind of basic stuff, all the way up to getting our freshmen ready for their first season.”
The camp will take place from 8:30 -11:30 a.m. at Panther Stadium, and although Walker said he’d like to have all of the incoming football players at camp in order to give them a head start prior to the first day of practice, he understands some of them have other responsibilities.
“We get a lot of incoming freshmen, and we like to get them in huddles and start breaking the huddle and doing some of those things,” Walker said. “Only thing is you can’t make them come. You don’t get them all. They have vacations and those sorts of things.”
One of the biggest advantages of attending camp, Walker said, is being able to meet the junior high and high school coaches in a more relaxed setting before the chaos of football season approaches.
“It’s just getting back in the football mindset and having a little fun,” Walker said. “I always tell them it’s great that they get to meet the coaches. For the incoming seventh graders, the junior high coaches are there and they’ll get to meet them before everybody else. The incoming ninth graders get to hang out with the high school coaches a little bit. They all kind of get acquainted and we get to show everybody the ropes.”
The camp will feature one primarily offensive day, one primarily defensive day, and one day that focuses on special teams, each of which will include a “chalk talk” from Walker and Defensive Coordinator Kent Walker. The Walker brothers will introduce the athletes to basic offensive and defensive schemes from the Panther system, including vocabulary and individual positional assignments.
“Some of the terminology we use sometimes goes over the kids’ heads and we don’t really realize it,” Walker said. “It’s just time to slow down and talk a little bit more about it while we’re not so hurried. Some of the vocabulary, they’ll get it before the others. It’s just three days of, I don’t want to say tutorials, but it’s three days that they get ahead of their peers that don’t get to be here and see it and do it. It’s definitely an advantage, just because they get to get familiar with the offense and defense and what we call things. We’ll have to go over it with those kids that aren’t at camp, so they’ll get to hear it a second time, so they’re just a step ahead.”
Although it was difficult for Walker to admit it, he said camp is a great time for players to try new positions. For example, Walker said a number of linemen have used camp as an opportunity to get reps at running back.
Temperatures will likely reach triple digits the week of football camp, but Walker said their early-morning starts should ease the pain with slightly cooler temperatures. He also said camp won’t be as labor intensive as a typical week of football practice, as the focus is primarily on learning schemes and vocabulary as opposed to working on physical conditioning.
“The great thing is we go in the morning, so it’s pretty easy,” Walker said, “and we’ll have water and trainers and all those kinds of things. We take a lot of breaks, and it’s really not all that bad when you get out and get going early in the morning. We may have a treat for them or something afterwards, a popsicle to cool them off. We keep an eye on that stuff. For the most part, it’s more talking and letting them experience some things, but it’s not a lot of physical running all over everywhere. It’s not as high-demand as football practice. We want them to have fun and come back. We’re not trying to run anybody off. The kids, they show up and have a good time and we learn a little football.”
As Walker put it, Liberty Hill Football Camp is simply a way for attendees to “get a step ahead of the other ones” that aren’t able to attend. When football season officially starts in the fall, campers will have a three-day head start on their peers that didn’t go.