Mighty Knights take the field

Raymeal Ellis, 7, of Warren Avenue Pee Wees, releases a pass at the Mighty Knights football camp earlier this week. - Photo by Sean Janssen
Raymeal Ellis, 7, of Warren Avenue Pee Wees, releases a pass at the Mighty Knights football camp earlier this week.
— image credit: Photo by Sean Janssen

Football players aren’t known for their smarts.

And when a kid is just 6 years old, “Bremerton” is a long word.

So give the younger guys at the Mighty Knights football camp at Bremerton High School a break. When starting off camp with jumping jacks while spelling B-R-E-M-E-R-T-O-N, the littlest boys had some difficulty, but always finished off with a loud and proud “Bremerton, Bremerton, KNIGHTS!”

Around two dozen gridiron enthusiasts between 6- and 14-years-old turned out for the opening session Monday of the four-day-long camp. The youngsters donned new bright white camp T-shirts at the start that weren’t all so spotless by the time the two-and-a-half hour session was through.

Bremerton High coach Nate Gillam told the “future Knights” what was expected of them from the get-go.

“When you learn how to do things now, you’ll already know how to do it when you get to high school,” Gillam said. “This is what you’ll see on Friday nights when you come to the games. This is how we do it.”

Coming to the games will be special for these kids in the fall. Gillam told the players there will be at least one Friday night where the Pee Wees will be invited to stand on the Knights’ sideline.

The coach also explained to players the importance of the “blue line,” soon to be painted on the field so that it will not only exist in the imagination.

“You step inside, you’re hustling, you’re paying attention,” the coach said.

Such discipline will be key to the Knights’ program.

“The team’s been coming off not the best three seasons, they haven’t had a lot of discipline the last three years,” Gillam said. “We’ve got good players, they just need the ... little things that will make the bigger things a little easier.”

The Knights’ coaching staff led players through a variety of drills culminating in a 10-minute scrimmage for each of two age groups to wrap things up.

Offensive coordinator Ron Torres took players through high-knees running over blocking dummies while coach Mike Turso taught them correct technique and hand position for blocking.

Gillam and assistant Daniel McInnis taught agility, weaving the Pee Wees through a “box drill” and a series of cones.

The players also split off to work with offensive and defensive position coaches and separated into an 11-14 age group and another for the guys 10 and under.

Before calling it a day, there was even a little inspiration from Bremerton mayor Cary Bozeman, recalling his playing days.

“Good football players had discipline. They did the right things most of the time. Not everybody can be fast, not everybody can be tall but everybody can be strong. You can go in and pick up some weights,” Bozeman said. “Another thing I learned about’s like life, you get knocked down, you get back up and get back after it.”

Picking up an after-practice snack, Elijah Mitchell, 10, was pleased.

“I liked it,” Mitchell said. “I love sports, especially football. I liked defensive back drills.”

Torres said the camp provides a good jump for players heading into the season, not only for Bremerton but all of Kitsap.

“I think it’s a good head start for them. They’re a week ahead in the program,” he said. “I think if we get more and more out here, it’ll be good for the entire compete against those guys across the water.”

Overall, Gillam too felt good after the camp.

“This was great. I was extremely impressed,” Gillam said. “The kids we got were enthusiastic, real receptive. My varsity guys did a very good job (as coaches), they were integral.”

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