BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Past, present and future faces of the Shenendehowa football program came together for the first-ever Shen Football Passing Academy, a three-day camp from July 18-20.
“It’s basically an offensive camp,” Plainsmen varsity head coach Brian Clawson said. “We’ve lumped together running backs and wide receivers into one group [of campers], and we also have a quarterback group.”
Participants at the camp included Shenendehowa athletes ranging from those entering seventh grade to senior year of high school, while Plainsmen football coaches received instructional help from past stars such as Kyle Buss, Ryan VanGalen and Jordan Zlogar.
“That was awesome,” Clawson said of using alumni as counselors, a pool of former athletes which also included Eric Morris, Dakota Rainville and Willy Stevenson. “I wanted to bring back guys that have been successful from our program and give our [current] players a chance to see them again.”
The Shenendehowa football alumni helped run stations for Clawson’s camp, plus jumped into drills when needed to show proper techniques.
“I love to have them demonstrate, too, so [the campers] get to see their skill level,” Clawson said. “It’s been a great experience and I’m glad we have those guys back. It means a lot to me that they’re here, and to our kids in the program.”
In all, a little more than 90 athletes participated in the camp with fairly even dispersal amongst the various grades. Camp ran for three hours each day, with position-specific individual skill work starting off each session before campers transitioned into more team-oriented drills.
For many of the older players, Clawson said the camp was mostly about getting in some extra work before junior varsity and varsity seasons.
“Every rep, every pass, every thing you do — you’re improving,” he said.
For the younger players, though, the camp also allowed participants the chance to get a feel for what’s ahead of them in their football careers.
“[This] will help the younger guys see the big picture and get acclimated with some of our system,” Clawson said. “It’s good to get everyone on the same page.”
That system now very much includes a heavy emphasis on the passing game, a staple of the program since Clawson became the varsity coach before the 2012 season. VanGalen and Zlogar, seniors on the 2014 team that made it to the state semifinals, set school passing and receiving records together during their final high school season.
“We’re a big believer in developing the pass,” Clawson said. “You need it at a high level in the playoffs.”
Shenendehowa’s varsity football team starts its preseason in mid-August, while its first regular season game comes Sept. 2 at Troy. The Plainsmen are coming off a 2015 season which concluded in the Section II Class AA semifinals.