High school football players prep with summer passing camp


WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – We’re just a few weeks away from the start of fall sports practices for high school football teams, but many teams in the area have been hard at work over the summer getting a head start on the upcoming season.

With less than a month before the start of the high school football season, area teams are getting extra work in before fall sports practices get underway with passing camps, like this one at Watertown High where both the Cyclones and the Indian River Warriors were on the turf.

The coaches say these camps are important for both them and the players.

“It’s really crucial to be out here every week and really getting to know these guys coming up from JV. It’s a learning experience for us and them as well because where trying to figure out where these kids fit,” said Watertown Football Coach Kyle LaLonde.

“It’s very important for our kids to kind of get a baseline as to what we want to do throughout the season. It just gives everybody a jump start. Gets a little excitement about football going on as well,” said Indian River Football Coach Cory Marsell.

It’s also a chance to get back into football shape, with the older players refining their skills and refreshing their memory of the playbook, and the younger players getting their first taste of varsity football.

“We want the shole team to be working together as a machine, as a family so that we can bond together,” said Watertown senior Tristin Clifford.

“Oh, it’s really important. It’s important for us to get a running start to this because we have a lot of challenges this year. We want to get in the right headspace before we have to go against anyone,” said Watertown senior Tayvon Johnson.

“We just got to work on discipline and make sure our minds are ready for the season because it’s a long journey,” said Watertown senior Sixto Quiles.

“Get all the guys out here. Get them ready, get ready for the season, get more experience for the younger guys, get everyone together,” said Indian River junior Brady Lynch.

“It gets everybody back into shape, back into football mind, getting our buddies together. You know, getting into shape, getting stronger for the season,” said Indian River junior Connor McMahon.

While it’s called passing camp, the coaches say they work on all aspects of the game with their players, so they can jump right into game preparation when fall practices get underway.

“Mainly working on just the skills of like proper stances, proper starts, proper technique for running our routes, proper throwing technique for our quarterbacks, different formations,” said LaLonde.

“Just your basics. You want to find out base coverages. Also, you get a chance to see their athleticism and put them in good positions,” said Marsell.

Putting in the work during the dog days of summer to have success in the upcoming high school football season.

The first place Watertown Red and Black open the home portion of their 2022 Empire Football League schedule Saturday night at George Ashcraft Field, where they host the Plattsburgh Northstars. Kickoff set for 7 PM.

It’s a good chance for fans to check out the team, with free admission to the game thanks to FX Caprara.

It’s the first meeting between the 2 teams this season and it’s a battle of 2 rivals.

Playing Plattsburgh is something Ashcraft looks forward to each season.

“Oh, it’s definitely, you know, since 1991. We’ve had- It’s about a 50/50 split on wins and losses, really. We’ve won a lot of big games, but so have they. It is a rivalry. It’s a good friendship rivalry, too. It’s never been a grudge where, you know, you dislike people. That’s what makes it fun,” said George Ashcraft.

As the SU Football team continues fall camp, one of the main focal points for the team to have success this season is on the offensive line.

Injuries and the lack of depth have hurt Syracuse the past several seasons, but last year there were some bright spots with the line opening holes for Sean Tucker en route to almost 1,500 yards rushing.

The big weakness in 2021 for the o-line was pass protection, allowing 33 sacks.

This season, the Orange will be looking to change that.

“A lot more consistency compared to last year. I think we did a good job in the run game, but we gotta do better in the passing game, pass protection. I don’t know where we’re at right now, but I think we’re pretty low in the rankings, so we gotta do better,” said Offensive Lineman Matthew Bergeron.

“We haven’t had a stable offensive line since, you know when, and I’m not gonna bring it up. It’s frustrating for me and it’s God’s will. I mean, it’s not like somebody’s doing something wrong, but if this is the season where it all works out and we can keep our top 7 guys there, let’s go. I didn’t say 5 if I could just play with 7,” said Coach Dino Babers.

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