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Camp ignites football fever

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It’s painfully obvious that kids need an edge these days when it comes to sports.

Getting a head start is especially important in football, where the competition in Columbus is fierce.

Both Columbus North and Columbus East have well-respected programs with long histories of success. Those who do not prepare themselves for the challenge of earning a spot are likely to be disappointed.


If your incoming seventh- or eighth-grader is interested in playing high school football here in Columbus, there is a can’t-miss opportunity that begins Tuesday.

It just might be the best $50 spent in terms of prepping a middle school student for the eventual challenge of earning a spot on one of the two prestigious teams.

The Columbus Middle School Football Camp begins Tuesday and runs through Friday.

The first two evenings of instruction run 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Columbus North High School football field and the second two nights will be conducted at the same time on the Columbus East High School field.

There is no preregistration, so all students sign up the first night on the field. If a player can’t make one or more nights of the camp, the cost will be pro-rated.

It is an unusual camp in that North coach Tim Bless and East coach Bob Gaddis got together about 10 years ago and decided to combine efforts to help kids in the community who have dreams of playing football.

Consider that the two programs are intense rivals during the season. In the last seven games of the series, East has four wins, and North has three victories. They have split the past four games.

Anyone familiar with such a rivalry knows how much of a leap of faith it takes for coaches to join forces. However, Bless and Gaddis have made sure the focus is totally on football, and not on recruiting future talent.

The only way the players will tell their coaches apart is by their orange or blue clothes.

“We wear our colors,”

Bless said. “It’s pretty much all we own.

“But there is no ‘Columbus North way’ or ‘Columbus East way.’”

Four North and four East coaches will instruct those who attend the camp.

“It’s going to be pretty much the same format that we have used,” Bless said.

“We feel the camp has been a good thing, a fundamentals-based camp.

“We make sure the kids are playing with the proper technique irregardless of position.”

Bless and Gaddis also encourage middle school football coaches to attend the camp as well so they can be on the same page in teaching fundamentals. The camp includes significant instruction

on tackling techniques, which includes the “heads-up” method of safer tackling.

It is not a full-contact camp so the coaches hope the players learn the techniques and then practice them the rest of the summer. The players are asked to wear cleats (tennis shoes if no cleats are available), shorts or sweats and a T-shirt. The registration fee includes a camp T-shirt.

Registration begins at

6 p.m. on Tuesday at the North football field. Cash or checks (payable to “Columbus Football Camp”) are accepted.

Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at or 379-5632.

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