With Sonora High School unable to host its annual Mountain Misery Football Camp due to renovations at Dunlavy Field, the three-day event was moved to Central Catholic, an annual participant in the proceedings.
So call this year’s camp Mayhem in Modesto.
Central, Sonora, Calaveras and Ripon Christian concluded festivities Saturday and earned a three-week break. The Sac-Joaquin Section dead period is officially underway, and teams can’t resume full practices until Aug. 11.
But coaches have a better idea of what needs to be fine-tuned or overhauled.
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“The thing I take out of this camp is I think we’re better up front than I thought we were,” said Raiders coach Roger Canepa, whose back-to-back state championship teams lost all-state anchor Spencer Stark and three other starters from last year’s unit. “But we’ll be all right.”
Under the section’s realignment that takes effect this fall, Central Catholic will leave the Western Athletic Conference and join the rugged Valley Oak League, and the overall size of last year’s line will be missed.
Sonora, for years a member of the VOL, will join the Mother Lode League, of which Calaveras is a long-standing member.
“I don’t care one bit,” Redskins coach Jason Weatherby said when asked if it bothered him to practice against a league foe. “It’s just good to practice against quality teams.”
At this point, Weatherby is just looking for basics.
“First, we’re just trying to get lined up right,” he said. “Then, you want to figure out what your problems are and get better. And then you just want to bring closure … get better than you were the day before.”
Sonora coach Bryan Craig didn’t think the Wildcats’ move into the MLL added any sizzle to the scrimmages.
“We’ve played them in preseason for the past four years and this is, I think, the fifth year we’ve been in camp together,” Craig said. “We know each other pretty well at this point.”
Ripon Christian, with just 17 players suited up for the camp (two others were unable to participate, giving the Knights a roster of 19), faced an altogether different challenge.
“Given our low numbers, it’s always a mental challenge for our players,” first-year coach Trey Ozenbaugh said. “We want to get better by playing established programs. We’re not going to shy away from that, and I think it’s something we’ll continue to do moving forward.
“You can look at it as a blessing or a curse, but you’re going to play (a lot) at Ripon Christian. Our kids know that and they accept that.”