Wednesday, Jul 02 2014 03:38 PM

Players return to roots, Warriors host youth football camp

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Tehachapi Warriors' junior lineman Kris Breedlove leads a drill with his teammates at the Tomahawk Youth Football camp held last week. Nearly 100 TYF players attended the three-day camp held at the Benzo Visco Fields.

Tehachapi football junior lineman Erik Smith works with one of the nearly 100 Tomahawk Youth Football players who attended a three-day football camp held last week at the Benzo Visco Fields.

Nearly a dozen Warriors turned coaches at the Tomahawk Youth Football camp held last week at the Benzo Visco Fields. TYF player Jimmy Padgett runs a drill at the three-day camp, intended to teach younger players technique, fundamentals and the responsibility of playing football.

The Tehachapi High football program is built on pedigree.

And its connection with Tomahawk Youth Football for nearly four decades has always seemed to supply a fair share of talent coming up through the ranks to replace graduating seniors.

The Warriors' coaching staff got a chance to look at the next generation at their annual youth football camp this past  week, and instructed a large group of campers that could find themselves suiting up for the high school team in a few years.

“This is our supply line for our program, this is our future," said Warriors’ head football coach Steve Denman.“  "This is where we get our kids from and this camp has always been a real positive experience for both the high school and Tomahawks football."

The camp, in its 18th year, ran from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, June 23-25, on Mike Ricker Field at Benz-Visco Youth Cultural Park, and hosted nearly 100 campers, which is about average according to assistant sophomore Tomahawks coach John Kramer.

The camp consisted of drills, instruction and games throughout the three-day period for kids ages 7-14, and was taught mostly by current Warriors’ players, along with a few current and former players and coaches.

Kramer, who has been involved with the camp since 2002, said the annual is a great way for the younger players to learn the institution of Tehachapi football and what is expected of them.

“There is a lot of tradition here; it’s been that way for decades," he said. “These high school players are here to work with the younger ones just like they were worked with years ago, teaching them technique, fundamentals, responsibility and living up to what we stand for here in Tehachapi — good clean football.”

That philosophy is what the Tomahawks football program has been built on during its 37-year-existence as part of the Golden Empire Youth Football League.

Coach Rodney Michael, who played on a Warriors’ South Sequoia Championship team that went 12-1, in 1997, and has four sons playing Tomahawks' football, said he feels the camp not only helps with building Tehachapi football's future, but also helps to galvanize player relationships and provides the younger players with a different view of the drills they perform on a daily basis.

"These kids look up to these older players," he said. "So it’s good for them to kind of see and idolize these high school kids who are out here to help them, and give them the hope of playing high school football one day.”

Former Tomahawk and current Warriors’ senior running back Chris Rhoades, in his second year teaching at the camp, agrees with Rodney.

“It’s fun being able to work with the younger kids and help them improve," said the three-year varsity captain. “The camp provides a different perspective from someone that has been in their position before.”

The Warriors will continue their summer workout program over the next several weeks along with hosting a variety of fundraisers.

They will scrimmage at home against Foothill on Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m., and then open South Yosemite League (SYL) play on Oct. 10, at home against Independence.  Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Denman will return for his 33rd season as the Warrior's head coach in 2014, aiming to notch his 15th league and 8th CIF championships.

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