In a tackling drill called the crocodile roll, Brentwood players (right) grab dummies and pull them to the ground. It was the second day of an eight-day camp that runs from July 13-16 and July 20-23 at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

In a tackling drill called the crocodile roll, Brentwood players (right) grab dummies and pull them to the ground. It was the second day of an eight-day camp that runs from July 13-16 and July 20-23 at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

Camps, weights, 7 on 7 have helped net 30 wins in 3 seasons

 
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

July is panic time for many high school football players. You suddenly start thinking about the upcoming season and you hope you have time to get in shape. You attend a summer football camp where coaches remind you, loudly, that you’d better get your act together by the time practice starts in August.

Not so at Brentwood High School. The football team is in the midst of an eight-day camp at the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church field and coaches haven’t been yelling much. At the end of the two-hour session last Tuesday a couple of the 21 players looked tired —it was 95 degrees — but overall they weren’t exactly dogging it. In fact, after finishing up on Thursday, about half of them went to Norm West Park to continue running through agility drills on their own — no coaches.

Keith Herring is starting his fifth season as BHS's head coach. His record is 37-8.

Keith Herring talks to players last week. He is starting his fifth season as BHS’s head coach. His record is 37-8.

“They don’t look bad,” said head coach Keith Herring. “We’ve got a long way to go but nobody is dragging too much.”

That’s at least partly because the players have been preparing for the 2015 season since school ended. Here’s what’s been on their calendars:

• Herring has had the weight room open five days a week all summer.
• Ball handlers have played weekly against other high schools in a seven-on-seven league.
• In June a three-day camp was held to introduce players to the 2015 game plan.
• They continue to learn the system at an eight-day camp this month.
• On Wednesdays it’s “team night,” where, said Herring, “We warm up and work on offensive and defensive plays, rep it and get it right.”

It makes for a busy summer for BHS football players, but the payoff begins when the season starts. Over the past three years Herring’s teams have gone 30-4.

Players practice on the blocking sled as Keith Herring watches. He said the July camp is to teach players how to run through exercises they will practice extensively once practice starts in August.

Players practice pushing the blocking sled as Keith Herring watches. He said the July camp is to teach players how to run through exercises they will practice extensively once practice starts in August.

Better at 7 on 7

Eagles quarterbacks, receivers and running backs are having their best summer ever in a seven-on-seven high school touch football league. Last week they won their pool at a DeSmet tournament, beating Cleveland NJROTC, Bishop DuBourg and Lafayette before losing to Althoff in the semifinals.

Several weeks ago they went 5-1 and took second place at a tournament at St. Dominic’s.

Warming up their legs are (front to back) Skylar Sappington, Joe Clay, Daniel Neal and Jordan Tate.

Warming up their legs are (front to back) Skylar Sappington, Joe Clay, Daniel Neal and Jordan Tate.

“We’re doing a lot better at seven on seven than last year,” said junior quarterback Skylar Sappington. “Last year our secondary was all freshmen and sophomores. This year they’re sophomores and juniors.”

Sappington said the summer’s biggest victory so far has been beating DeSmet at DeSmet: “It was great. They did not like that.”

More passing?

Though the Eagles’ offense is anchored by senior all-state running back Jacob Clay, the success at seven on seven, which is all passing, might lead to more pass plays this fall. That would be fine with Sappington, who has attended four quarterback mini-camps this summer and is, as Herring put it, “busting his tail in the weight room.” He has the team’s second best power clean.

“He’s put in some good time this offseason,” said Herring. “I think we’ll be able to throw the ball more.”

Sappington attended quarterback camps, from three to six hours each, at Mizzou, Northwest Missouri State University, Lake Forest College in Chicago and SIU Carbondale. He and several other high school QBs have been working out together in St. Charles with coach Merce Roach, who runs Quarterback University.

Sappington explained, “I know this year I’m an upperclassman so I want to take bigger steps, play better, be a better leader.”

Quarterback Skylar Sappington calls the play.

Quarterback Skylar Sappington calls a play. He started every game as a sophomore last season.

New assistant coach

Brentwood has a new volunteer assistant coach, Tim Poelker, to lead the linebackers and tight ends. He has assisted high school teams in Collinsville and Wesclin, Ill. His father, Carl Poelker, was the head football coach at McKendree University in Illinois for 17 years.

Poelker joins offensive coordinator Robert Findley; offensive line coaches Anthony Harper and Tom Pitcher; special teams, defensive line and running backs coach Jeff Manestar, and quarterbacks coach Adam Kobler.

Offensive coach Robert Findley.

Robert Findley is Brentwood’s offensive coordinator.

Anthony Harper coaches the linebackers.

Anthony Harper coaches the offensive line.

Line coach Tom Pitcher demonstrates blocking technique.

Offensive line coach Tom Pitcher demonstrates a blocking technique.

Jeff Manestar coaches the

Jeff Manestar coaches the special teams, defensive line and running backs.

Quarterbacks coach Adam Kobler talks to freshman Courtland Hill.

Quarterbacks coach Adam Kobler advises freshman Courtland Hill.

Other notes

Missouri high school football teams are allowed no more than 25 days of contact practices. Despite all their practicing, the Eagles might not need all of them. “We get 25 contact days and each year we’re scaling it back a little bit,” said Herring. “We’ll probably use only 20 of the 25.”

The heat index was 111 degrees on July 13, the first day of the July camp, so BHS practiced in the gym. Herring said outdoor practices cannot be held if the heat index is 105 or higher.

Water is close by as players learn a blocking exercise.

Water is close by as players learn a blocking exercise.

With the temperature at about 95 degrees last week, players were given numerous water breaks.

With the temperature at about 95 degrees last Tuesday, players were given numerous water breaks.

2015 Brentwood Varsity Football Schedule
Aug. 14, Friday, at Windsor Jamboree, Imperial, Mo.
Aug. 21, Friday, away vs. Crystal City, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28, Friday, home vs. JFK, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5, Saturday, away vs. Sumner, 1 p.m.
Sept. 11, Friday, home vs. Orchard Farm, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18, Friday, away vs. Cuba, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26, Saturday, away vs. Principia, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2, Friday, home vs. Lift for Life, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9, Friday, home vs. Liberty-Wentzville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17, Saturday, away vs. Cleveland NJROTC, 1 p.m.
Oct. 23, Class 2 District 5 playoffs

Daniel Neal eyes the ball as players practice running pass patterns.

Daniel Neal eyes the ball as players practice running pass patterns. Last year as a freshman he started at defensive back.

Jacob Clay returns for his senior year after setting school rushing records last season and being chosen to the all-state second team.

Jacob Clay returns for his senior year after setting school rushing records last season and being chosen to the all-state second team.

Ricky McQuay provides resistance for a blocking exercise.

Ricky McQuay provides resistance for a blocking exercise.

Keith Herring makes sure players meet their assignments on offense.

Keith Herring makes sure players meet their assignments on offense.

Cal Snare lifts his helmet during a water break.

Cal Snare lifts his helmet during a break.

Brian Hutton goes after Jacob Clay in a tackling exercise.

Brian Hutton goes after Jacob Clay in a tackling exercise.

Senior Sam Tilton squints into the lowering sun at the end of a camp session.

Senior Sam Tilton squints into the hot sun at the end of a camp session.

Corey Carroll (right) and Rob Bax warm up.

Corey Carroll (right) and Rob Bax warm up.

Rob Bax was Brentwood's  starting kicker, punter and defensive back for much of last season, though he was a freshman.

As a freshman last year, Rob Bax was Brentwood’s starting kicker, punter and defensive back.

Luke Tilton stretches out.

Luke Tilton runs through an exercise at the start of a camp session.

Stephen Suntrup started on the offensive line last year as a freshman.

Stephen Suntrup holds the dummy for a blocking teammate.

Justice Harris lets some of the heat out of his helmet during a break.

Justice Harris returns to practice after a water break.

During a break, Brian Hutton (left) answers the question Keith Herring asked of each player: "What's something you don't like?"

Brian Hutton (left) answers the question Keith Herring asked of each player: “What’s something you don’t like?”