AU Press Releases
AU hosts eight high school squads at 13th annual team camp
ALFRED, NY — For the 13th summer, Alfred University hosted several hundred high school football players and coaches at “The Gridiron Champions Football Camp” from July 11-15 and July 18-22.
The “The Gridiron Champions Football Camp” is a team camp that high school coaches use to begin preparations for the upcoming football season. The success of the camp over the years brings coaches and programs back to Alfred every year.
Eight schools participated in this year’s sessions. From July 11-15, Central Square (Syracuse area, 40 players), Chautauqua Lake (Jamestown area, 34 players), Corning (48 players), Raritan (New Jersey, 44 players) and Victor (Rochester area, 44 players) high schools attended. From July 18-22, Maple Grove (Jamestown area, 33 players), Matawan (New Jersey area, 31 players) and Webster Thomas (19 players, Rochester area) attended.
Practice sessions took place at Merrill Field on the Alfred campus and at Pioneer Stadium on the Alfred State College campus. Due to field replacement at Merrill Field, all practices during the July 18-22 week of camp took place at Pioneer Stadium.
The players stayed in Alfred University campus residence halls and ate meals on campus. Alfred provided facilities such as classrooms, weight rooms and the McLane pool to the teams.
“The team camp brings some of the best teams in New York and New Jersey to Alfred” said Alfred Head Football Coach Dave Murray. “The camp gives teams a chance to get a jump start on their season and to compete.”
Head Coach Matt DiCarlo’s Central Square Red Hawks began attending the Alfred camp seven years ago.
“At camp, we will install 75 percent of our offense and 60 percent of our defense,” said DiCarlo. “Our goals are to come together as a family building core values with discipline and effort and to acclimate ourselves to the new system.”
The Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds began coming to Alfred because of Head Coach Dan Greco’s experiences coming to the camp when he coached with another team. Greco uses the camp to work on drills, condition the players, install offensive and defensive systems, and to allow the players to bond.
“The goals are to get half of the system in, build camaraderie and have fun,” said Greco. “We like the camp because we can get a leg up on people and kids start thinking about football.”
Tim Hughes, head coach of the Corning Hawks, sees the camp as a way to develop the concept of the team prior to the start of the season. Hughes had previously brought his Corning East team to the camp; Corning High School was formed by this year’s merger of Corning East and West high schools.
“Our goals at the camp are to get to know one another and develop team unity, chemistry and trust,” said Hughes. “The coaches like this camp because it gives the coaching staff a chance to be with the players away from distractions.”
Along with providing an opportunity to install offensive and defensive schemes, Maple Grove Dragons Head Coach Curt Fischer used the camp as a chance to create team bonding and to make the preseason easier.
“Everybody gets together as a team,” said Fischer. “Coach Murray is great and you can’t beat the atmosphere.”
The Matawan Huskies, 2009 New Jersey state champions, began coming to the Alfred camp after Raritan’s coaches spoke highly of it. Matawan Head Coach Joseph Martucci’s goals for the camp are to come out healthy and better prepared for the season.
“The camp gives us an opportunity to use our run and pass game against other teams, look at film and to get ready for double sessions,” said Martucci.
The Webster Thomas Titans came to the camp for the first time this year. “We’re not worried about X’s and O’s,” said Coach Scott Deuschle. “Our goals are team building, installing the run game and inserting screen passes.”
Raritan Rockets Head Coach Anthony Petruzzi explained that he became familiar with Murray when a former head coach at the school took teams to Cortland State, where Murray coached at the time.
“At camp, we develop skills and techniques on both sides of the ball,” said Petruzzi. “We work on the little things and base packages.”
Petruzzi also uses this camp to figure out what kind of players he has on his team. “We identify the leaders and playmakers and assess our depth,” he said.
Victor Blue Devils Head Coach Jim Haugh became a close friend of Murray in the early ‘90s and his teams have come to the camp since it began.
“We focus on growing as a team and getting to know each other as a unit,” said Haugh. He noted that the camp is a way to get work done in the offseason, which is harder do to with football compared to sports like basketball and baseball. “I expect the kids to be coachable and to work hard,” Haugh said.
The coaches also spoke highly of the University and what makes them come back to Alfred for football camp year after year.
“The way we are treated and being friends with the coaching staff brings us back,” says Greco. “You can’t get better than this with three practices a day with open facilities” said Petruzzi.
“I am a creature of habit,” added Haugh. “The camp works well and I’m not going to change.”
“We love the atmosphere,” said DiCarlo. “Coach Murray has been very gracious.”
The main focuses of the camp, the players, seem to enjoy the camp the most. “They love it,” said Greco. “They know it’s hard work, but they realize they should be thinking football.”
“They appreciate the camp,” said Petruzzi. “It gives them a chance to get away from their parents and to look forward to hard work.”
“They like the intensity and it prepares them for what they are going to get later,” said Hughes.
“They love it,” said Martucci. “They develop camaraderie with other schools and are in a more adult situation. They have to bond to become a team and there are no distractions.”
“In five years, I’ve never seen a kid disappointed,” said DiCarlo. “They look forward to it every year and always have a great experience.”