It may have looked like all fun and games at the Seguin middle school football camp at Matador Stadium on Thursday.
And for the 120 or so seventh through ninth graders in attendance, it mostly was.
But there was some serious football stuff going on for the coaches and players at the camp.
Learning fundamentals, new plays, new offenses and defenses, assessing players and positions they might play for the upcoming season and evaluating coaches — all of the above was happening during the camp for the unofficial start of the 2019 season.
“It gives the coaches a chance to evaluate the players and figure out what position fits them best,” Seguin head coach Travis Bush said. “Even though they’re having fun and playing games, it’s a chance for the coaches to sit back and evaluate.
“We’re finding out about their attitudes, who can compete, who wants the ball, who can handle good plays and bad plays.”
But it wasn’t just the kids who were benefitting from the camp.
“It’s a chance for the new middle school coaches to work with the high school staff and hear how we’re coaching things, so we can all be on the same page,” Bush said. “It’s also a chance to evaluate coaches — some of these new guys, I can go around and see how they coach and how they work with the kids.
“It’s a part of it, the same way you evaluate athletes, you evaluate coaches.”
On the sidelines
Casey Rogers was there, an interested fan from the sidelines as his son, Jared, participated in the drills on the field.
Jared will be a seventh grader this year at Barnes Middle School, and plans on continuing his football career with the team there.
“We’re out here to get a head start and meet the coaches,” Rogers said. “We’re getting excited for the season.”
Rogers coached his son on teams when he was younger, so he was watching the camp with an observant eye.
“I like what I’m seeing,” he said. “The coaches are paying attention to detail and taking the time to individually critique the kids in the fundamentals.”
Jared has played defensive end on previous teams, but where he will play this year remains to be seen.
“We’ll see, it’s up to the coaches,” Rogers said. “He really enjoys defense, but he’s a smart kid, so he can play any position.
“He knows and loves football, so he’s always helping his teammates on the plays and where to line up. I’ve always encouraged him to be a leader in that aspect.”
Rogers was happy that more of the kids Jared’s age were at the camp on Thursday.
“I was glad that a lot of them showed up that didn’t make it yesterday,” Rogers said. “I’m sure it’s tough for a lot of the parents to get the kids here, especially the new ones in the area that may not have been involved so much yet, but I’m happy with what I’m seeing.”
Rogers played for Seguin in high school, and was enthusiastic about his son’s interest in the game.
“Football’s always been a big part of my life, and I’m happy to get to share it with my son,” he said.
Bush was mostly supervising on Thursday, and for the most part letting the middle school coaches and his assistant coaches at the high school run the camp.
There were more than 20 coaches on the field handling the more than 120 kids participating at the stadium.
“We’ve got our freshman coaches and middle school staffs involved,” Bush said. “It’s a good opportunity for the coaches to get a head start coaching their young men, learning the offense and defense, and competing to get better.”
He noted the numbers of players out for the camp on Thursday.
“This looks like the best numbers we’ve had in our four years here,” Bush said. “These guys are out here getting better. There are other guys that are sitting on their tails playing video games.”
The better part of the camp was spent teaching fundamentals of football to the athletes.
“The big thing is fundamentals — blocking and tackling, ball-handling, throwing and catching,” Bush said. “But they’re also learning some plays on offense and defense, giving the coaches a head start for teaching plays when they get in and start practice at their own school.”
The last part of the camp on Thursday featured three different games of “yard ball” as he called it, all the kids playing games of touch on different parts of the field.
“We divide them up into teams and they play two games at the end of each day, we keep track of their records and we’ll have a championship game tomorrow,” Bush said.
The oldest athletes at the camp were the incoming freshmen to Seguin High School.
They had a special huddle at the end of Thursday that was motivational and organizational, with coaches discussing what would be expected at the official start of practice next Monday.
Marcos Bentancourt expects to play for the freshman team this fall and will be working in a new offense.
“I learned how to play at running back,” he said. “Running a spread offense is pretty new to me, because we ran a Slot T in middle school.”
Along with Bentancourt, Devin Matthews has been playing since third grade and is making his first foray into high school football.
“I was trying to get better with my hands, and improving my footwork,” he said.
Nick Salaz has played on the offensive and defensive lines throughout his football career, and expects to play somewhere on the line on the freshman team.
He was using the three days of camp to improve his conditioning.
“We were working on lineman drills and improving our footwork,” Salaz said. “I’m getting in shape out here and getting stronger. Just being a part of the camp and showing up has been fun.”
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at email@example.com .