Steps to success: Brownstown football builds program from youth to varsity



Brownstown Central High School’s football coaching staff plants the seeds for success thorough its camps aimed at fifth- through ninth-graders.

The Braves’ varsity football team has a long history of success, and if one asks 56ers coach Jon Robison, the youth programs have a lot to do with their growth through the ranks.

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“I think one of the reasons for our school’s success is (Reed May) gets to the kids early, and we get to the kids early and keep them interested in the sport,” Robison said.

The camps, which both ran this week, teach a myriad of skills.

The 56ers begin the learning process similar to how students progress through grades in school.

“We focus on working fundamentals, doing stations. We teach them the basics of blocking, receiving, ball caring and passing,” Robison said.

Students at this point are too young to fully realize what potential position they could play, however, Robison said that they do start looking for characteristics of positions.

“Right now they play every position,” Robison said. “It’s basically letting the coaches get a feel for what they do well, and what they might not do.”

May said of the 56ers camp, “Basically we just want them to have fun and learn about the sport.”

May said it’s more important for players to learn the basics, especially at fifth- and sixth-grade levels, than learning and memorizing plays, which comes later.

“It’s fun. It’s nice to play with your friends and get to play football,” sixth-grader Colsen Ellison said.

May’s program has put a focus on the basics, as long as he can remember, especially with tackling technique, which has come to light in recent years because of professional players’ spinal and cerebral injuries.

“Tackling form is important,” he said. “You know all these things with concussions and other things, we’ve stressed correct form for 25, 26 years. Even at the high school level we focus on it, too.”

The camp begins to evolve at the junior high level.

There is still a focus on the basics, but players begin to get divided into their positions on offense or defense, and all get their first chance to start practicing with the gear to get them accustomed to it.

“We are a smaller school, so we do have kids that play both sides of the ball, but we spend a day on offense and a day learning defense,” middle school coach Mike Brown said. “At the middle school level they only run about five offensive plays and five defensive plays.”

Eighth-grader Bryce Neal attended the camp talked about why he felt it was important for players to attend the camp.

“We learn about the positions. Their are new kids and lots of them are just learning about their positions and what other positions do,” said Neal. “I like playing football because I get to tackle people.”

Another change takes place at the middle school level, as students begin to scrimmage against other schools. The 56ers only compete against each other.

One thing does remain as players grow with the program.

“We want to keep that love of the sport that they gain from the start,” Brown said.

The camps culminate at Superstars Night, which will be held tonight. There will be physical tests for the high school team; a 56ers punt, pass and kick competition and middle school scrimmage and awards ceremony at the high school practice field and weight room. The event will begin at 4 p.m. with the high school team maxing out in the weight room and end around 7:30.

“It’s the whole experience for them,” May said. “We want them to get to see and talk to the high schoolers who they look up to and get to know them at the end of the week.”

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