Some of Seymour’s future gridiron stars took to the turf field this past week at Bulleit Stadium.
While they may catch passes and work on footwork with the coaches now, in a couple years they hope to shine under the Friday night lights.
From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, nearly 50 fifth- through eighth-grade football players sharpened their skills under the guidance of nine coaches from both the middle and high schools.
Varsity head coach Josh Shattuck decided to return to a spring football camp for the middle-schoolers after putting together a league for a couple of years.
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“We did it my first year here, but then what we did for a two-year window was played spring middle school football where we played in a league,” Shattuck said. “(The league) just wasn’t the right fit for us — it turned more into an AAU travel team, and this (camp) keeps us together. This is the first time for five straight days
“The kids have been very receptive to technique. I think they see that success breeds success. They see that here. Even though we’ve made great strides at the varsity level, last year was our first real winning season. A lot of these kids were at those games.”
While the camp was open to fifth-graders, the majority of the kids hailed from the middle school — including 20 incoming freshmen.
“I’ve been playing since sixth grade, and I really enjoy the sport,” eighth-grader Noah McAfee said. “I want to get better and love playing for the Seymour Owls.”
The coaches focused on all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams — with the attendees.
“We break it down to the basics,” Shattuck said. “We break it into five different positions on offense and three on defense. We’ve developed special teams talent to punters, kickers, holders, long-snappers, extra-point blockers and lane runners.
One of the new focuses for the coaching staff is working on special teams at a younger age.
“We’ve started teaching those (special teams) at a younger age because we haven’t emphasized as much as offense and defense,” Shattuck said. “We’re going to not only emphasize it more on the varsity level but teach it at the younger levels.”
Stephen Wilson, an eighth-grader, said he attended to get ready for next season.
“I decided to come because I feel like it will give me a lot more experience for when I get to high school,” Wilson said. “I feel like that if I come here, I will have a better idea of next year.”
Eighth-grader Cody Ruble, who typically plays quarterback, got a chance to try some new things at camp while also learning the Owls’ offense.
“I just love football,” Ruble said. “It’s a good experience with all the coaches — you getting to know them and them getting to know you. I think my fundamentals have gotten better. Coach Shattuck is really good at working with the quarterbacks. I even tried a few different positions.”
The camp segues into the winter middle-school weights program, which goes two days per week for eight weeks starting at the conclusion of spring break.
In middle-school weights, the athletes focus on technique and safety as opposed to throwing on extra poundage.
Shattuck said it’s important to do as much as possible with the younger athletes and utilize the turf field as much as possible.
“We’re building this thing from top to bottom,” he said. “We’ve gotten to a place where we’re winning games at the varsity level, but the next thing is having a consistent winner kindergarten through 12th grade. This is a big piece of that.”