Nearly 60 Brownstown fifth- and sixth-graders are withstanding the high heat and humidity at Blevins Stadium for camp this week.
While the boys have taken the gridiron together already, it’s the first time they get to practice with contact.
“This is the first time they actually put the pads on and they first time they tackle,” Braves varsity head football coach Reed May said. “We don’t play other schools. We just play our fifth grade against our fifth grade and our sixth grade against our sixth grade. Sometimes at the end of the season we have scrimmaged other teams.”
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Brownstown boys play flag football when they are in third and fourth grade.
“This is the first time our fifth-graders put on gear and tackle people,” May said. “This is the second year for our sixth-graders.
“We do a camp in the spring that is run by the high school coaches, Grades 3 through 6. We teach them all different positions and how to do things. This is just fifth and sixth grade, and the thing at this camp is they are actually coached by the 56ers coaches. They get to know the coaches, the coaches get to know them. Usually they would have pads on, but since it is so hot they’re probably not going to wear any pads at all.”
May also said the middle school players also attend a camp in the spring, ran by the high school coaches.
“The camp they have this week is their start of middle school football,” he said. “We handed out equipment (Monday) night, we’re putting in their offense and defense this week.”
Aidan Wayt, an incoming sixth-grader, said he had a lot of fun while improving his football skills.
“You can have so much fun out here, you just don’t notice it sometimes,” he said after getting a drink of water. “Wide receiver and slot are my two best positions. You just reach for the high passes and go down to catch the low ones.”
Another camper, incoming fifth-grader Adam Stahl, also said he enjoyed playing wide receiver in flag football, and he said he is looking forward to catching a lot of passes this fall.
Braydon Fish, an incoming sophomore who plays a tight end and defensive back, was one of several high schoolers to help coach the camp.
“We’re getting them ready for middle school and high school so they can become varsity players,” Fish said. “I like teaching receiving. We try to get them to know how to put their hands up and keeping their head up whenever they’re not tackling.”
Dan Darlage, who is moving from right tackle to center in the offensive line, said he enjoys working with the players on their fundamentals.
“I really want to help progress our team, teach them at a young age,” he said. “The earlier you teach them, the better they are going to be in high school.”
Darlage recalled attending the camp when he was in fifth and sixth grade.
“I remember it helping a lot,” he said. “I like teaching offense because that’s what I’m better at, and it’s fundamentally important.
“Football is a great way to stay in shape. That is one of the main reasons I’ve played football, and you develop a liking for it. It’s a fun sport. I feel like I’ve progressed a lot (this summer). The program has really helped me reach my goals.”
The 56ers camp is just one of a handful of football events taking place in Brownstown this week.
“This is our big week,” May said. “We’ve got the 56er camp going on (at Blevins Stadium), we’ve got a middle school camp going on at the middle school and a freshman camp will start later (Tuesday night). All three or our camps are going on this week.”
He also mentioned a women’s clinic was held Thursday night.
The Superstars competition, and punt, pass and kick competition is tonight.
A 7-on-7 will take place Saturday, and the Dancing with the Stars will go that evening.