Prep football players get jump on upcoming season

Cole Payne works on receiving handoffs in Coupeville
Cole Payne works on receiving handoffs in Coupeville's spring football camp.
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times

Though the prep football season officially kicks off in August, most Washington high schools get a jump-start by holding spring camps.

Oak Harbor began its spring session just after Memorial Day and finished last night with a scrimmage. The Wildcats will complete the off season with their annual trip to Wenatchee in July for team camp.

Coupeville wraps up next Friday (with the possibility of a  scrimmage with La Conner Saturday), then it’s off to team camp at Lynnwood High School June 26 to 28.

New Coupeville coach Tony Maggio greeted 30 players to the Wolves’ spring camp and expects the number to swell to 40 when the season begins when some players no longer have drivers education or summer baseball.

He said his primary goals are to “come out of camp healthy,” “that every player has a clear understanding of what’s expected and the direction we want this program to go,” and for “these kids to have a good time playing ball.”

He added, “We just are trying to teach the fundamentals, proper stance, base formations and tackling.”

Maggio said spring camp helps drum up excitement for the season, generates attendance for summer weight training and allows the coaching staff to evaluate players and prepare for the upcoming season.

“I think,” Maggio said, “when you are in a small school, it also may attract kids that are sitting on the fence about playing football to come out and give it a shot.”

One of the concerns for Coupeville, according to Maggio, is the team’s youth. Nearly a third of the team, 13 players, are freshmen. He said, “But these kids are pretty good athletes and are keeping pace with our older kids.”

He has been encouraged by the leadership of his five seniors: “They make our jobs as coaches much easier as they set the pace and tone of our practices so the young kids naturally follow.”

Maggio is also encouraged by the play of his offensive line. “We have 1,280 pounds of meat up front, and they are all athletic,” he said.

The line returns second-team, all-league player Anthony Maggio, the coach’s son, and honorable mention choices Caleb Valko and Nick Streubel. Also back are Sergio Guerro, Ben Haight and Carson Risner.

Coach Maggio said the Wolves will run the wing on offense but will throw the ball more than most wing-based teams. To get more speed on defense, Coupeville will play five defensive backs the majority of the time.

In Oak Harbor, coach Jay Turner welcomed 130 players, including the most sophomores, juniors and seniors (105) ever.  The freshmen numbers, about 25, are slightly down.

Turner said camp helps “introduce most of our offense and defense so that we can hit the ground running in the fall.”

It will also help identify “who our kickers, punters, snappers, holders, etc. will be,” he said.

“The most important goal,” Turner said, “is to have fun.”

The spring camp also allows the coaching staff the opportunity to introduce new schemes. He said, “We definitely have some new wrinkles for both our offense and defense…but I can’t give away all of our secrets.”

Turner sees spring camp as “extremely important.” He added, “The spring is the teaching time. We like to get all of our teaching done in the spring. This enables us to do a lot more in the fall.”

Turner is happy with the progress his team made this spring: “We’ve got a solid group of returners and a very nice nucleus of incoming sophomores.  It’s also a great group of kids to coach and to be around.”


(In the photo, Oak Harbor players practice tacking during spring camp this week)

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