Essex holds first football campBy Jeremy Smith Published 8:22pm Tuesday, August 2, 2011
John Essex head football coach and athletic director Jerome Antone has crafted a unique method to help his team overcome some of its obstacles for the coming season.
Hornet players arrived with luggage in hand at John Essex High School Sunday evening, reporting for a three-day camp designed to promote team togetherness while also helping the squad enhance its on-field skills.
“I think it’s working,” sophomore running back and defensive back D.J. Bennett said of Monday, nearly 24 hours after the team first reported.
The camp saw John Essex players turn the school cafeteria into their home for the three-day span.
The large room saw pallets and air mattresses setup in stations around the room as players used downtime to play video games and watch television together.
“We’re just trying to give them a chance to fellowship together,” Antone said of his players. “We’re giving them something to do, keeping them off the streets and in a controlled environment.”
The John Essex squad saw its entire roster report to camp, a total of 15 players as of Sunday.
Given their lack of numbers and experience, the Hornets are relishing the opportunity to developportunity to forge their relationships and build team chemistry.
“For the first time having this camp, they are doing a great job,” Antone said.
“It’s bringing us closer,” senior quarterback Travis Tripp said. “It’s bringing us together as a team, helping chemistry.”
That will be vitally important for an Essex squad that graduated the bulk of its leadership after going 5-5 in a banner year for the program.
In addition to developing team chemistry, the camp saw the Hornets practice intermittently throughout the day, focusing primarily on conditioning as the slight in numbers squad tries to avoid injuries and early season cramping.
“It’s very important,” Antone said of the conditioning work his team has been putting in. “Number one, we feel as though conditioning has limited the number of injuries we’ve had and things of that nature.”
The Hornets will begin Friday, Aug. 19 when they travel to play Fruitdale in their Jamboree game. The Hornets open the regular season at home against St. Luke’s on Friday, Aug. 26.