CLAYTON — Well before the season starts, high school football coaches put in long, hard days. There are 7 on 7 camps, weight lifting and conditioning sessions and a variety of football camps held for Pee Wee, middle school and high school players.
Consider this. Monday the Northmont High School coaching staff put in at least a 12 hour day. At 7:30 a.m. Northmont Head Coach Tony Broering and Strength and Conditioning Coach Clay Mangen were at the high school preparing for the day. At 9 a.m. the offensive and defensive lineman came to the weight room for a lifting workout as well as some agility drills. At 11 a.m. the bus arrived and the skill position players went to Dayton’s Perc Welcome Stadium for a 7 on 7 camp. Broering was thrilled with his players’ performance at Welcome Stadium.
“The kids did fantastic,” Broering said. “We beat Thurgood Marshall at 1 p.m., at 2 p.m. we played really well against Trotwood (a 47-7 victory), and then at 3 p.m. we beat Mount Healthy and at 4 p.m. we beat Belmont, so we had a great day down there. When we got done with all that at 5 o’clock, we came back here to get ready for Pee Wee Camp from 6 o’clock to 7:30, so my coaches are like, ‘You are crazy buddy.’ But I was like, ‘Hey, I love football.’”
A total of 60 kids signed up for the Northmont Pee Wee Football Camp, which Broering says he thoroughly enjoys more than anything.
“This is really my favorite part of football is to see the little ones and have fun with them,” Broering stated.
After a few warm up sprints on the hot, humid day the Pee Wee players learned the “heads up” tackling technique during a 30 minute drill.
“We also have the new ‘Shadow Man’ tacklers. The Thunderback Club, God bless them, they granted me the funds to buy those Shadow Man tacklers for the varsity,” Broering noted. “What’s great about them is that this is the whole new thing they are doing in the Ivy League where you don’t hit each other, you practice tackling the Shadow Man.”
The Shadow Man tacklers are equipped with a harness and a player can run and drag the dummy, which is held upright in a donut device similar to a car tire, while another player tackles the dummy.
“We tried them out the first day they came in and the kids love it, and it is going to be a great addition to our program, so we are excited to see the little guys play on them too,” Broering chuckled.
When the Pee Wee players got their chance to hit the Shadow Man dummies, many laid into them with total abandon.
“It’s just great when you get out here,” Broering said. “You know I have a little boy (AJ), so it is kind of a special thing for me to see all these little guys out here running around having fun… and we try to make it fun for them, not work or practice, so we do some cool stuff for the warm up, then do some tackling and at the end we let them play games.”
Different games are scheduled to finish each night of the Pee Wee Camp. Monday’s session included a score drill where a ball is tossed to a player at the 10 yard line and he gets to make one move and score. Tuesday night’s session will probably feature ‘Razzle Dazzle’ and Wednesday’s session is a touchdown drill where players get to catch a pass and then act out a celebration dance of their own making in the end zone.
“The best part of camp is on Wednesday when the kids get popsicles. At least that is my favorite part,” he quipped. “I’m excited about this camp. There are so many kids out for football and as you can see, all of my varsity lineman are here helping out. Tomorrow night the skilled guys will come and help. They were tired from today’s 7 on 7 camp. Like I said, we had a long day today, players and coaches alike. Coach Mangen and I have been here since 7:30 a.m. It has been a long day, but it’s great, especially since we had such a good day down at Welcome. The boys are really working hard this summer on offense and defense, and we have a lot of kids back. It is exciting to get to coach those kids who played as sophomores and who are now seniors. They kind of know what they are doing, they are working hard and it should be a lot of fun this year.”
Broering stressed that the Pee Wee Camp is probably the most fun that the coaches and players have all season.
“It’s just little kids who love football. There is no pressure and you are just having fun,” Broering said. “What we are doing right now, a couple of years ago we started the ‘Heads Up’ tackling initiative that the NFL and Football USA put out. That was my style of tackling anyway, so it merged perfectly with my philosophy of always having your head up and out of the tackle and you throw your arms and roll your hips to bring an opponent down. We’ve done a thing now for the last three years where the first half hour of practice focuses on that technique.”
The varsity team does the same exact drill the Pee Wee players learn in camp. Broering stressed that it is imperative that Pee Wee players learn to tackle the proper way starting from a position where they are on their knees and throwing their hands into a tackling shield.
“What is great is that all my coaches are helping and all of my lineman are helping, so it makes it easy to coach when you have assistants and kids like this. The kids on the varsity are great kids, my coaches are awesome, and coach Mangen has been here with me since 7:30 a.m., so how can you do better than that?”