‘Hog ball’ closes out BHS camp
For the final day of camp, Baldwin High School football coach Mike Berg kicked back and let his players enjoy some fun and games.
The final hour of the week-long camp was spent playing "hog ball," which is a free-for-all football type game. The reason for the game is simple, according to Berg.
"That's kind of a tradition," Berg said. "We split the guys up as equal as we can and let them run around showing us their skills. We've even got linemen catching balls, so it's fun to see."
Although the game is supposed to be fun, it also brings out the competitiveness in the Bulldogs.
"It stunk losing, because no matter what I'm doing," BHS senior Aaron Mills said, "I like to be competitive. I think everybody who plays football is like that."
In the end, only one of the six teams went undefeated Friday morning. Senior Blake Wieden helped lead that team to victory, which was gratifying for him.
"It was a lot of fun to take a break from being coached and just have some fun," Wieden said. "It felt very nice to win."
Despite the loss, Mills still enjoys playing hog ball on the final day of camp.
"Hog ball is one of the most fun games there is to play in football, besides real football," Mills said. "It's so much fun to play."
The annual summer camp began on the morning of July 23 at 7 a.m. and lasted more than two hours for each of the next five days. It was the final tune up for the Bulldogs before practice starts Aug. 14.
"Their work ethic was amazing to us," Berg said. "Our kids worked harder than they ever have and right now, as coaches, we are happy with what we have done at camp."
Mills had a fun time at camp, because he hadn't played football in several months.
"It's pretty cool, because you take so much time off from football but then you finally get to come back out and get into it," Mills said. "It's one of the most fun things to do."
Seeing old teammates made the camp fun for Wieden.
"It was a lot of fun," Wieden said. "The team really came together well and we all had fun with each other. It was a good learning experience."
Much of the camp was spent working on conditioning, but Berg also wanted to implement his new schemes for the year.
"We are learning our new defense and new offense," Berg said. "Every year we try to get our offense and defense to fit our personnel. So we are just working on basic techniques again and fundamentals. We are trying to get guys in the right positions where they are going to help us this year."
The players are adjusting to the new schemes that they will be using this fall.
"We were mainly working on putting in our offensive sets, defensive sets and our new formations," Wieden said. "We were just kind of polishing them up before the season starts."
Mills is enjoying the new offense, because it gives him options as the running back.
"We started one new offense," Mills said. "It's coming along great. It gives me two opportunities to choose where I want to go."
Another aspect of football Berg wanted to work on during camp was senior leadership. He knows the senior class is smaller than usual, but he feels strongly about them after last week's camp.
"The senior class is small, but they are fun," Berg said. "They keep me laughing all of the time. We want to be serious at times, but they keep the atmosphere nice and calm. They just have a good time and have fun playing football."
He was happy with their leadership, since he emphasized it at the beginning of the camp.
"We are getting some good senior leadership and that is what I stressed the first five minutes of camp," Berg said. "We have had some seniors really step up and contribute in the offseason and we had some that didn't, but we need all of them to step up and be leaders. They are doing that so far."
Mills enjoyed being a senior at camp this year.
"It was one of the most fun camps I've been to, because this is my last year," Mills said. "That was my last time I get to be with all of my buddies at the camp. It was really fun."
One concern of Berg's was the number of freshmen at the camp, because there was not enough to fill a team this fall.
"We've got a pretty decent number out, but we are short on freshmen right now," Berg said. "We don't quite have enough to fill a team. All of the seniors came out that we anticipated, so we are excited about that."
The Bulldogs have been busy playing football and training all summer. During the summer, many BHS players have been lifting weights and conditioning in the mornings.
On Monday nights in June and July, the Bulldogs traveled to De Soto for the annual 7-on-7 football league. Several BHS players have also been to camps this summer, including the Greg Williams Football Clinic July 18.
"I think it helps their confidence mostly," Berg said of the summer camps. "We went to Excelsior Springs (Mo.) last Tuesday and competed in a 12-team tournament and got fourth place out of some really big teams."
With the season starting in 11 days, Berg told his team to keep training until practice starts.
"We've got a lot of work to do conditioning wise," Berg said. "We are bigger than we have been in years past. We've got to keep our conditioning and keep our quickness. They have worked hard this summer and we are going to continue for the next two weeks."