This was our 4th consecutive year back to the Lone Star State and the caliber of kickers and punters did not disappoint as usual. What a fun experience we all had from kicking at the ‘mini Jerry Jones’ like indoor stadium to getting tons of instruction and fun competitions outside in the famed Gopher-Warrior Bowl in Grand Prairie, TX. Kickers and Punters traveled from all over the state of Texas as far as 6+ hour drives and even one student came out from NJ!
The format was a 2-Day Kicking Camp with focus on instruction on Day 1. We teach the fundamentals and technique of field goal kicking, punting and kickoffs. Half-way through the first day’s session we break for lunch which is a nice opportunity for students to make new friends. After lunch is over we get back to work quickly and break down video from the morning kicking. This provides each student the ability to actually see their form on the big screen as coaches diagnose and repair form ailments.
Texas is known for changing conditions and weather that surprises you from one day to the next. When I arrived in Dallas the weather was 98 degrees, hot and sunny! At the start of our camp it was cloudy, cool and thunderstorms and tornados in the forecast! None of us were hoping to experience a Texas twister so we prayed the weather would hold out at least until our 2 day Kicking Camp was over! Fortunately, we were blessed with weather that circled all around the town of Grand Prairie and held out just long enough to provide us a wet free camp. Five minutes after camp was over it started lightning and raining!
For the Day 2 competition we had very strong swirling winds in the 20 MPH range. I asked the students if they wanted to eliminate variables and kick in the indoor football complex or if they wanted to do it outside. The response was unanimous that they wanted to try the competition in real life conditions even though it was windy and FRIGID (45 degrees). I applaud them on being brave and wanting to take on a challenge!
The competitions were fierce and some of the students really set themselves apart quickly. You can reference the full camp stats here. We’ll start the play by play with the ‘Older Group’ which was 10th and 11th graders (class of 2013 and 2014). Matthew McCrane of Brownwood HS and Sean Pollock of Royse City HS went the distance in what felt like a heavyweight boxing bout! The two were head to head the entire field goal competion. It went to the tune of make, make, make, make, make with hardly a miss mentioned anywhere! Nearing the end of the competition from 50 yards away Matt missed and Sean had the chance to close out the camp if he made it. Unfortunately Sean pushed his (or should I say the wind pushed it) but had PLENTY of leg and it gave Matt another chance to stay in the game. So after the first 50 yard field goal attempt, both Matt and Sean had 2 misses. But since they were tied we had to go to a bonus round. We kicked again from 50 yards and this time Matt nailed his and Sean’s got pushed again in the wind and Matt McCrane was crowned the Golden Boot Award winner of our 2011 Dallas Kicking Camp! Both boys did exceptionally well and are already very good kickers and will only continue to grow into even better kickers over the coming years.
In the Older group kickoff competition consistency won. Chris Gulla from Toms River North HS in Toms River, NJ was able to come away with the win. He didn’t even hit his best balls but because of his consistency with a respectable hang-time and deep ball he was able to knock off everyone else. The whole key to our kickoff and punting competition is consistency. Since students only get 2 attempts at each, it really trains you to perform under pressure and doesn’t allow you anytime to ‘get in a groove.’ It’s very much so like a game scenario where you may come in cold off the bench and are expected to put a perfect punt of kickoff down the field with little prior warm-up time. So that is why we do it this way.
In the Older group punting competition we had a very quiet young man who let his kicking and punting ability speak for himself. Again, consistency won here. Ronny Vega who traveled from Eastern Hills HS in the DFW area of Texas was able to come away with the win in our punting competition because of his consistent punts. None were rockets, but they were consistently good enough to beat out the other boys. See all the photos from the Texas Kicking Camp!
In the Younger group- Reagan Bates cleaned up shop in the field goal competition with a perfect 100% field goal accuracy rating as he nailed his 30, 30, 35 and 35 kicks to knock off everyone. We even gave him a 40 yard kick just to try after he had already won and he drained that too! Great job Reagan! Reagan also won the kickoff competition for the ‘younger age group.’ In the punting competition, there was one clear winner and Andrew Tucker wowed everyone with some high, tight spirals that looked like missiles. His hang-time average was 3.91 seconds and he is only in 8th grade! His punt distances were a very respectable net 35 and net 40 (50 and 55 yards in air from where he kicked it). I really look forward to seeing Reagan and Andrew’s improvement over the coming years. These guys should make for excellent kickers and punters in high school and beyond!
I want to thank everyone who made it out to the Dallas Kicking Camp in Grand Prairie, Texas this year. Us coaches has a blast teaching you everything we know and watching your improvement over the 2 days. A lot of friendships were forged and memories made. We may be coming back to the Gopher-Warrior Bowl again this winter so make sure you watch our website and Facebook page for updates. We also have a camp in Austin next month on June 11-12. Till then, keep kickin’ and ya’ll have a successful 2011 football season in Texas! -Coach Brent