TORRINGTON – The offseason is supposed to be a time to recover for the upcoming athletics season, but several Torrington Blazer football players are using their off time to attend camps and improve for Friday nights.
Breyden Bivens, an upcoming senior, may be the most experienced camper of the summer. He attended scouting camps at Boise State (June 10-11), Chadron State (June 15), the University of Wyoming (June 17) and Northern Arizona University (June 18). He also participated in the Manning Passing Academy on June 22-24.
Bivens is not the only Blazer to attend camps this summer. Cade Schwartzkopf and Bo Moorehouse went to camp at Chadron State, Northern Arizona University and the Manning Passing Academy, and Schwartzkopf joined Bivens at Boise State. Nathan Stitt joined the trio of Bivens, Schwartzkopf and Moorehouse at the Chadron State camp, while Casey Britton and Josh Posten attended the University of Wyoming camp. Jacob Wambolt took part in the Black Hills State University camp in early June.
Thirteen lineman attended the Big Man Camp at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont. on June 15-16. Wambolt, Toby Medina, Brandon Bennick, Scott Woodruff, Dylan Waller, Brett Posten, Tyler Schaub, Corbin Harris, Trevor Warren, Rhiley Grubbs, Rave Rising, Kevin Gunhammer and Dylan Dreiling all represented the Blazers at the camp.
During summer sports camps, players fall under the direction of other coaches. They’re constantly exposed the different aspects and approaches to the game. Local players said, while they carry their own technique into the camps, they’re welcome the chance to learn other ways to get the job done.
“You go and you know how to do something, but it might not be to the best of your ability or the best way to do it,” Schwartzkopf said. “You go out and get to adapt to all these different ways and even better ways. It definitely makes you a better receiver and player overall.”
The campers are run through a series of drills to work on technique, but then are put into competitions in all sorts of ways, including 1 on 1 or 7 on 7. It’s typically a whirlwind of activities during the one-day camps. During the extended-stay camps, participants get the chance to work through drills several times and put what they learned into practice.
“I’d say you get a lot out of all of it,” Moorehouse said. “You get your base with all your drills and then the competition lets you showcase all the drills you learned.”
Stitt agreed: “The drills make you better mentally – they make you smarter and more mentally tough. The competition makes you a better physical athlete.”
During the competitive activities, the Blazers are working against some of the stiffest competition from around the country, and even some international players. All the participants work to be better leaders and better players for their respective teams. Competing against solid players from other areas, with different outlooks on the game, helps drive the Torrington athletes to up their game.
“Some of those kids are Nike Opening Elite 11 kids that are just absolutely outstanding. They’re the kids that have the best work ethic,” Schwartzkopf said. “They’re the most motivated and I think that really makes you step your game up and allows you to become more motivated.”
While these camps are mostly centered on skills between the lines, Torrington’s players pick up several different aspects to improve their game. They pick up work ethic and motivation from both their competitors and their coaches, many of whom coach at the next level.
There is also the social aspect to camp. The Blazers are paired with campers from across the country for drills, competitions and even rooming. They said it’s nice to have hometown friends alongside at a camp.
Moorehouse and Schwartzkopf were in different groups during the Manning Passing Academy, so they picked up different skills, despite both participating as wide receivers. They said they could compare with each other what they learned through camp.
The Manning Passing Academy, at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., had a different feel than the camps hosted by colleges. Many of the instructors at the Manning Passing Academy were college players, including the University of Wyoming’s Josh Allen, or high school coaches. In Louisiana, there were more than 900 quarterbacks and 300 wide receivers.
“At the prospect camps, you’re going to get better but at the same time you’re kind of trying to show off what you have for the coaches,” said Bivens, who worked with Eli Manning in Louisiana. “At the Manning Camp, you’re really out there to get repetitions and to get better. You’re not really trying to show off for a coach.”
Whether looking to show off for a college coach or just trying to get better, the Blazers bring their newfound skills back to Torrington to share with their coaches and teammates.
The campers pass along what they learned to the Blazer coaching staff once they return from camp.
“Like all coaching staffs, we have our strengths and weaknesses,” Torrington football coach Mark Lenhardt said. “We don’t know everything so I always pick the kid’s brains to learn.”
The summer camps are on top of optional workouts in Torrington. There are workouts Monday through Thursday each week and throwing drills between the quarterbacks and skill players every Tuesday and Thursday.
“There is no question we ask a lot of our players,” Lenhardt said. “If we want to achieve our ultimate goal, we have to be firing on all cylinders.”
While at camps or doing workouts with their teammates, the top priority is learning skills and techniques to use on Friday nights for the Blazers. They hope that their efforts over the summer pay off for Torrington on Friday nights.
“You’re just trying to use those tools to get the win and that’s the ultimate goal of the camps,” Moorehouse said. “You want to get recruited and do all that, but the ultimate goal is to win on Friday nights and win a state championship.”