The Ponoka bantam and senior Broncs football teams both start their fall camps next week, and will be working hard to get ready for their first, full in-person seasons since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The teams hit the gridiron on Monday, Aug. 23, sharing the field at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC).
The seniors will be practicing from Aug. 23 to 27, from 4 to 6 p.m. They had their equipment handout on Aug. 19.
“We were unable to have a season last year due to COVID restrictions,” said senior Broncs head coach Cody Baird.
“This season will be a good year to revamp the program and re-define the team. Without a season last year, we will most likely have a lot of new players,” said Baird.
“This will allow the program to push to the next level as we will require a lot more coaching, training and team building.”
Any student attending PSC in Grades 10 to 12 is welcome to come out for the team.
All players are accepted on the team, says Baird. Playing time is decided based on player safety and their ability to run the team systems effectively.
“If a player hasn’t tried football before they are absolutely encouraged to come try the sport. We will have a lot of athletes who are new to the game of football this year, and it would be a perfect opportunity to fall in love with the sport,” said Baird.
“You don’t have to know anything about football, we will teach you everything you need to know. Come be a part of the team, have some fun and the rest will fall into place.”
Practice will start out with skill-based practices so that athletes are “safe, confident and ready to compete” he says.
“Then as we progress we will advance those skills by combining them with our teams systems.”
There will be a total of 10 practices before the first game on the road against Wetaskiwin on Sept. 10. The first home game of the season will be on Sept. 16 against Drayton Valley, starting at 4 p.m.
The Bantam camp runs Aug. 23 to 26, 30, 31, and Sept. 2, 6, 7, and 9 and is open to any student going into Grades 7 to 9.
“We had a ton of success during the last year and a half,” said bantam head coach Todd Lewis.
“Our Broncs were very dedicated during the pandemic — They attended numerous Zoom chats and dryland training sessions,all while navigating through COVID-19restrictions,” said Lewis.
”So, I want to continue increasing the commitment to excellence our Broncs have already demonstrated. Always striving for our best will not only set us up for success this football season — and subsequent seasons — but for life in general.”
During the fall camp, the Bantam Broncs will work on building basic skills and football knowledge. Returning players will expand on the foundational skills they have learned in prior seasons.
“Additionally, we will immediately begin putting in our defensive, offensive, and special teams playbooks,” said Lewis.
The team will also have a number of team building activities, games, and parties.
“Football is a game that is absolutely dependant on complete teamwork. For us to function as a unit, we need to build chemistry and gel as teammates.”
The schedule for the season is still being finalized, although Lewis says they’re for sure playing a game on Sept. 11.
“We absolutely encourage all kids to give Broncs a try, especially ones who have never played football before,” said Lewis.
“Brand new players are an asset as they are learning from the ground up and don’t have any bad habits. Everyone has to start somewhere and our team prides itself on teaching kids to be smart, passionate, and effective football players.
“If a player strives to improve, puts forth a consistently solid effort, is coachable, and, most importantly, demonstrates that he/she can lift their brothers, they will definitely become a Bantam Bronc football player.”