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Camp Focuses On Teamwork For Success
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Football players by the dozens - including about 80 from Escalon - put on the pads and helmets for three days and got in plenty of drills, working on skills and schemes in the annual Wing T Camp hosted at Escalon High.

Kicking off late Friday morning, the three-day camp ran Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with instructors from several colleges joining with Escalon High football coaches to run the camp.

Director Steve Verbit, from Princeton University, was quick to let participants know what was expected of them at the camp.

"We want to get you guys moving in the right direction," Verbit said. "How do we want it done? With 100 percent effort, all the time."

Goal of the intensive camp, he added, was twofold.

"We want to make you better as an individual, and make your team better as a football team," he said.

Pointing out that the coaching staff for the camp featured a number of college coaches with years of experience and winning records, Verbit told the players that there were some critical skills they needed to learn from the coaches.

"To be a good learner, you have to be a good listener," Verbit said. "Give them everything you have."

Focusing on the Wing T offense and defense, players spent time with individual coaches, sometimes breaking up into groups for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, offensive lines and tight ends. Other drills included an entire offensive team to work on various plays.

Rutgers University coach Joe Susan worked first with a group of eager Escalon players.

"This is our 18th year out here," he told the Cougars. "You can learn from the groups behind you, but you set the tone for the groups to come. You've got to win the one-on-one, then you win the 11-on-11."

Susan, clad in a Delaware Football T-shirt because his luggage was still in Denver on Friday morning, told the players to make the most of the time they have for the sport.

"Enjoy it while you've got it because it goes by too fast," he said.

Escalon coaches working with the players, from Escalon, Rosemont, Denair, Dublin, Willow Glen of San Jose, and Johansen included head varsity coach Mark Loureiro, head JV coach Randy Northcutt and assistant coaches Al Caton, Mike Backovich, Dave Lattig, Vince Cowan, Max Goldstein, Justin Northcutt and Ron Northcutt. The Wing T Camp staff also includes several other coaches, that travel with the camp throughout the Western States tour.

"We've got close to 300 kids," coach Loureiro said of participation in the camp this year. "For Escalon, we've got about 80 kids, 35 from the varsity and 45 freshmen and sophomores."

Weather was good for the camp, with temperatures near seasonal levels but not oppressively hot as players got into their gear and went through the paces.

Coach Herky Billings, who spent time at several schools including Delaware State and James Madison University, was busy helping players break down offensive plays step-by-step, working first in slow motion, then getting them up to speed.

Along with the instruction, Billings told players that the connections they make with teammates on the field can translate into long lasting friendships off the field.

"When I look back, a lot of my friends were from sports, some playing, some coaching," he said. "It's about socialization, creating those friendships."

Loureiro said he was glad to see so many prospective Escalon players attend the camp, willing to jump start their season.

"I'm real happy with the turnout," he said.