BY PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
At one end of the football practice field, players battled in a game of tug of war. At the other, squads raced up and down flipping massive truck tires.
Monday marked the second week of Mt. Vernon's football camp where high schoolers engaged in a variety activities as the Rams hurtle toward the official opening day of practice in about two weeks.
“(The summer) has gone really, really fast,” Mt. Vernon coach Jared Shaner said. “Kids have done an amazing job this summer. This is without a doubt the best summer I've had in terms of overall attendance, work ethic, things like that.”
Tug of war and the tire flips weren't the only activities on the field Monday night. Two teams of sophomores through seniors engaged in a conditioning game called Pass Anytime. The scrimmage consisted of an offense and a defense. The offense was allowed to pass the ball at any point no matter the line of scrimmage, giving a rugby-style feel to the action.
“It's a great conditioning game,” Shaner said. “It goes really fast. Once the one play is over, a coach starts counting to 10, and everybody has to be back on their side of the ball and have the ball snapped.”
Shaner said numbers have stayed high for the program throughout the summer. He expected about 70 sophomores through seniors once practice started. The higher numbers come after back-to-back seasons of just a handful of players in the senior classes.
“We have a very solid sophomore class who has had some success in the past,” Shaner said. “Our freshman participation has been good so far, and then our juniors and seniors are kids who a lot of them have got some varsity time.
“I think they're ready to step up and be leaders.”
Freshman were in pads Monday night and working on plays throughout the practice.
In addition to the games, the non-freshman players, had film sessions along with meetings. Tonight the roles reverse with upper classmen in pads before the team takes a night off. All four grades finish the week in pads both Thursday and Friday.
After this week, the Rams players will take a mandatory break from football action before the team's first official practice on Wednesday, Aug. 14.
“You want to be prepared, and you want to think about all the little situations that maybe you've covered or maybe need to cover better,” Shaner said of the opening practice.
The annual Meet the Rams night will be held again this season on Friday, Aug. 23 with Mt. Vernon opening its season on the road at Rochester the following Friday night.