For one weekend in the middle of June, it was football season in the area.
The Seventh Annual East Central Football Camp took place last weekend.
A total of 32 high school football teams participated in the event, which took place at Borgia, St. Clair, Parkway West, Ft. Zumwalt East and Ft. Zumwalt West.
Coaches Dale Gildehaus of Borgia and Jeff Duncan of Parkway West began the camp seven years ago and still run it.
“It was a tremendous success for everyone. All of the coaches felt like they made progress. It gave them a chance to evaluate their kids,” Gildehaus said. “We had officials to control things, the weather cooperated and there were no serious injuries. I’d love to have a couple more JV teams to give those kids a chance to play more. We had a good crowd and the Little League made money running the concession stand.”
Four schools hosted eight teams for controlled scrimmages both Friday and Saturday.
Area teams participating were Borgia, Washington, St. Clair, Union, Pacific, Owensville and St. James.
“It was good to play against some of the area teams. We were a little short on bodies, but the kids we had did a good job,” said Washington Head Coach Zach Schneider. “Defensively, we struggled against the pass, but I was pleased with how we defended the run. Teams spend so much time working on their passing game. It can be tough to defend, especially this time of the year. I thought our passing game was very good.”
Borgia played against Washington in a jamboree-style scrimmage Saturday night at Borgia.
“It was very competitive against Washington. It was almost like a midseason game,” Gildehaus said. “We found out that we don’t have any depth on our line. Washington is looking for linemen, too. Our younger kids realize they have an opportunity to play. Nobody wins or loses jobs, but they find out what they need to work on between now and when practice starts in August.”
Led by their respective quarterbacks, Borgia’s John Baumstark and Washington’s Luke Hasenjaeger, both the Knights and the Blue Jays had success moving the ball in the scrimmage between the two teams.
“Baumstark is good. We know that. He made plays,” Gildehaus said. “Luke Hasenjaeger is a great young man who has a lot of talent. I wished him luck at the end of the night and told him that I hope he’s the second-best quarterback in the area next season.”
Schneider was pleased with how the Blue Jays competed.
“Borgia is a great team, and I felt like we played right with them,” Schneider said. “On Saturday, we were 12 for 15 on our drives. Borgia stopped us twice and Berkeley stopped us once.”
Gildehaus was impressed with all the teams playing at Borgia.
“Pacific was impressive. They had 42 kids. George (Hinkle) is doing a great job. Union did very well. They have a talented quarterback (Blake Hulsey) who has a great arm. It was great to have Owensville there for the first time,” Gildehaus said. “We saw the wishbone with Salem. We saw speed with Berkeley and St. Mary’s. Berkeley had a running back who was fast as heck. Their coach said their best back wasn’t even there. He’s competing in track meets all over the country this summer.”
Schneider had similar thoughts on the other teams.
“I was most impressed by Pacific’s kids, maybe because it was a little unexpected. Their quarterback (Cory Parrish) made all of his passes. George said his team is pretty young, so they have a bright future,” Schneider said. “Union is young, but they have a quarterback loaded with talent. He’ll make their offense work. Union is a team you won’t want to play late in the season once they get everything worked out with a new quarterback and a new coach.”
St. Clair did not play at Borgia because it hosted action both Friday and Saturday.
“We had St. James, St. Mary’s and Berkeley in our session Friday and Christian, Lutheran North and Gateway Tech on Saturday. There were some good matchups on Saturday,” said St. Clair Head Coach Cody McDowell. “It’s very early. Every team is still trying to figure things out. Teams had some players missing for various reasons. We were missing four or five starters.”
The Bulldogs have plenty of speed and talent as well, led by quarterback Kyle Juergens.
“Five of our first six games this season are away, so it won’t be easy,” McDowell said. “The good thing is that we should have our biggest senior class since I’ve been here, which is good. Some of our seniors already are showing great leadership, which is something we’ll need.”
Many of the larger schools played at Parkway West, Ft. Zumwalt West and Ft. Zumwalt East.
“I saw a lot of great teams. There really wasn’t a bad team,” Duncan said. “Teams like Ft. Zumwalt West, CBC, Waynesville and Webster stood out to me. Jackson had 77 kids. Brent (former Union coach Brent Eckley) is doing a really good job. He’s already put his stamp on that program. We competed well the first night against Zumwalt West, Jackson and Waynesville. We were sluggish on the second night. This camp is about seeing which kids can compete and who is going to help the team. It was a good experience.”