Thursday, September 24, 2009
Former OHS coach trying to start football tradition at Potts Camp
(Editor’s Note: The following sports column, written by Patrick Ochs of The Oxford Eagle, is reprinted with permission.)
Is it possible to get valuable experience from standing on the sideline?
It is if you’re the future of the Potts Camp football program.
Those who were at the Oxford-Senatobia football game September 11 may have noticed an extra group of boys standing alongside the field in street clothes.
Those 20-plus high schoolers are the future of the Potts Camp football program.
Former Oxford girls basketball coach and assistant football coach Shane Stone left the school over the summer in order to return home to start the Potts Camp football program.
Friday, Sept. 11, he brought his young team to Bobby Holcomb Field to let them get a feel for what Friday night lights are all about, something many of them have only seen in the movie theater and on television.
“Some of them have never even been to a high school football game in their life,” Stone said during halftime of the Oxford-Senatobia game. “Coach (Johnny) Hill was gracious enough to let us come and tour the facilities. He said we could stand on the sidelines and see the intensity level of a Friday night.”
With his players still a year away from facing an opponent, Stone said keeping his team motivated during practice has been hard, but Friday’s “field trip” helped.
“I think this has made it even more evident that they want to hit somebody else,” Stone said. “They’re tired of hitting each other and want to hit another team.”
Potts Camp currently has a junior high and junior varsity team, with players in seventh grade to 10th grade.
With so many young players who have never played the sport before, teaching his players what it takes not only on the field but off of it as well has been an added challenge.
“They don’t realize yet what kind of dedication and commitment it takes to be a football player every day,” said Stone, whose two teams each have approximately 25 players. “It’s hard work and sometimes keeping them motivated to come to practice is not an easy thing to do.”
Not only are the players learning, but Stone admitted he is, too.
“I found out it’s a whole different animal than going to a program that’s already established,” he said. “These guys have just known baseball, basketball and track. That’s all they’ve done and football is like a foreign animal to them.
“They’re just learning from the ground up, but they seem to be enjoying it. We’re just taking baby steps.”
If you were to go and watch a Potts Camp practice this year, you might recognize a lot that they’re doing - and that’s by design.
“I brought just about everything I’ve learned under Coach Hill at Oxford to Potts Camp,” Stone said. “If someone came and watched us play they’d say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve seen Oxford do that.’ ”
With any luck, in a few years Potts Camp will be able to start producing wins on the gridiron at the same clip that Oxford has.
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