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Butler hits the road for summer camp

| Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, 5:10 p.m.

Call it the camp before the camp for the Butler football team.

The Golden Tornado headed north to Edinboro University to take part in a three-day football camp. It was a new experience for Butler under first-year head coach Rob Densmore, who thought this was the squad's first team camp stay away from the area in a few seasons.

“It went really well,” he said. “Not everybody could make it because of jobs and vacations, but we had 56 kids up there. We got in a couple of 7-on-7 passing scrimmages and did a lot of practicing.”

Aside from the on-field work, Densmore was pleased to have his players and coaches get away for a few days and continue the team-building process.

“The big thing was the team bonding and kids hanging out with one another. Kids were hanging out in their rooms, playing cards and doing things they should be doing together,” he said. “They really enjoyed themselves, getting away from home and away from all the distractions and just being together. I am extremely happy with the way it turned out. It was new for them. It was something we had done at Pine-Richland when I was there. We went up to Edinboro when I played at Seneca Valley. It's nice to get away, and you can just focus on the players and coaches. It was very beneficial for us.”

Butler, which is trying to distance itself from a 10-54 stretch since 2007, had a jam-packed schedule. The team headed to Edinboro on July 13. For the next three days, they hurried between meals and on-field sessions.

“We had three sessions a day. We utilized a lot of that to practice as team, and we did have some 7-on-7s. I thought we did well considering all of our systems are new,” Densmore said. “A couple nights, we ended practice early. One night, we went and played the seniors in beach volleyball. Another time, we went down to the pool. We went to the weight room once. We tried to vary it up and have as much interaction as we could.”

Two Ohio teams — Conneaut and Lakeside — were at the camp as well. The Golden Tornado got to play against the squads in 7-on-7 passing scrimmages.

“I don't put a lot of stock into 7-on-7s, but it's nice to put in the fundamentals of what we're trying to do,” Densmore said. “It was good. There were some good athletes we went against, and I thought we did a pretty good job.”

Butler had passing scrimmages against Mars and Knoch earlier in the summer. It gave the team a chance to get on the field and run through its new systems.

“Without the guys up front, it doesn't tell you too much. But, it's good to go through coverages,” Densmore said. “We have been chalk talking and installing since March. To get out on the field is a lot different than going against yourself. You get a little competition and some intensity you don't necessarily get otherwise.”

The Golden Tornado players were happy to come back home after the three days.

“They were pretty beat up. Our kids worked hard those three days. They were beat; I think they gave us everything they had,” Densmore said. “That camp was a big deal. The timing of it was perfect. We were working out four days a week. No matter how fun you try to make it, it starts to get monotonous. When we came back, we changed up the weight program. We went from four days to three days a week so they can be full-go heading into camp.”

Official football practice begins Aug. 11 and Densmore has been pleased with the team's progress so far.

“Since I was hired in February, and I talked to our coaches about this, I am really surprised with how far along we are,” he said. “Not that it's been easy. It's a testament to our players that everything is coming to them quicker than I expected. They are in their playbooks, paying attention and being coachable.

“Our kids are buying in and getting excited. I am looking forward to it.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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