Tecumseh football camps off and running
By MICKEY ALVARADO
A hot afternoon in July seems an unusual time to be thinking about football but there is no bigger priority on Tecumseh varsity football coach Jason Mensing's mind with just two and a half weeks between the last day of camp and the first official day of practice.
Coach Mensing has already had a successful camp focusing on defense for the varsity level, from June 23-25, and looks to have another with the younger athletes of Tecumseh. The second defensive skills camp, for grades 7, 8 and 9, begins on Monday, July 21, and runs to Wednesday, July 23.
Both camps emphasized defense with three main objectives set by Mensing and his staff this season. The first objective is to find a simple but practical defensive layout.
“Basically everybody in our league runs some sort of spread set,” said Mensing. “So we needed to run something where we could show simple coverages and run multiple coverages out of it, so it pretty much has to be a forced secondary look doing that.”
Mensing's second objective gets straight to another problem: tightening the playing field as much as possible.
“The trend right now is to run spill ends, bounce everything to the sidelines,” said Mensing. “We want to do the opposite. We want to run contain ends and shorten the field.”
The final stroke on the defensive drawing board is to be able to utilize the Indians smaller, quicker athletes.
“Generally we're not going to be as big and physical as say Ann Arbor Pioneer, so we want to find a way to take a 150-pound kid who's a tough nut and wants to get after it on the field and be successful doing it. We think we've found that.”
While it'll be a new look for the Indians' defense, Mensing added that, “Football isn't rocket science and when we start making it we just confuse ourselves. So, I don't think it's going to be a great surprise to anybody.”
However the coach also added that the new look should help close some doors on opponents trying downfield.
“The biggest thing for the seventh and eighth graders is we use that time as an evaluation period,” said Mensing. “Because they are so crunched for time at the middle school. There are so many kids out there.”
Currently the Indians have a large number of interested players with 65 seventh graders signed up and 56 eighth graders.
“So you've got 120 or so kids out there running around and you've got two weeks to prepare to get ready to play games, and four teams to prepare.”
During the camp the coaches will be determining which positions the youth are best suited for the upcoming season. The ninth graders will also be assessed while being taught some plays for their season competitions.
Helping Mensing incorporate his newest plans is all but one of his last year's coaches. Mark Spicer left for a Physical Education position and head wrestling coaching spot at Sand Creek. The other four, Brian Schmidt (D-coordinator), Andy Clark (frosh coach), Chris Hoag (D-tackle) and Joe Lindy (D/O backs, JV coach) have put in many hours of work preparing to pass on the new schemes. Nate Pechitis was recruited from Madison to replace Spicer. He'll coach special teams and defensive ends. Casey Randall, the Indians' new head wrestling coach, was also invited to assist Mensing and he'll help with the linebackers. David Hessler was asked to return after stepping in at the freshman level to replace Hoag for the second half of the season after he had a motorcycle accident. Nate Long was also added at the freshman level.
The last camp of the preseason is possibly the funniest for everyone involved when Mensing and his assistants take the high school level players to Petoskey from July 28-30 for team bonding.
“We'd like to be at a point where we're coming out of the summer with 70 percent of our offense and 80 percent of our defense in,” said Mensing. “And we'll be fairly close. Certainly with the senior kids,”
Mensing added that the younger group would probably be closer to 50 percent on both sides of the ball.
“It's pretty critical when you only have eight days before that first scrimmage,” said Mensing.
August 11 is the first official day of practice but the kids can work out on their own time in the summer, and have been hitting the weights pretty hard.
“Their summer is a pretty good grind,” said Mensing. “This summer has been probably the best I've ever had. It's been awesome.”
The lowest number of athletes utilizing the high school's weight room (91) was right after the fourth of July weekend with many families breaking away on vacation. On average, 97 committed high school athletes can be seen working out when the facility is open despite all of the coaches' high expectations.
“We ask them to do a lot,” said Mensing. “It's a lot of work and it's not for the faint at heart. It's for those who really want to be great, special, not just at football.”
For more information on the Mid-Level camp, held at Tecumseh's middle school, or the Petoskey camp call coach Mensing at (517) 862.9511.