WESLEY CHAPEL - Wiregrass Ranch High football coach Mike Lawrence wanted his camp to be different from others.
Lawrence, in his first year as the Bulls coach, designed the three-day camp for kids ages 5 to 14, which started Wednesday, to combine the basics with more advanced elements of the game.
"We show them everything," Lawrence said. "We'll go over basics of weight training, fundamentals, training, footwork, proper techniques for tackling, stances and working on the positions that they want to develop into. We even take them into the classroom to show them board work. Basically all the things we do with the high school team."
The Bulls also, for the first time, opened the camp to those living outside of Wiregrass Ranch's school boundaries, giving any child the chance to learn about the game.
"We wanted to get everyone around involved and show them what Wiregrass is all about," Lawrence said. "We didn't want to constrict it to just this area. . We want to teach everyone the proper way to play and help develop that love for football."
Lawrence said he has no issue with the camp developing passion in a future gridiron star at Mitchell, Land O' Lakes, Pasco or Wiregrass Ranch's other county rivals.
"That's fine with me," Lawrence said. "We want to help all kids develop and be better across the board."
The football camp was a first for Clark Elementary third-grader Drayk Simmons, who is taking up the sport this year.
"I'm going to be starting playing football this year for the (New Tampa) Wildcats, and I wanted to get conditioned for anything," Simmons said.
The story is similar with Kyle Kovach, a Pine View Middle seventh-grader.
"My mom wants me to practice field goal kicking," Kovach said. "That's the position I want to learn."
Several Bulls players also acted as coaches during the camp.
"The kids really like it, and I enjoy coming out here, seeing them smiling and help them run through the drills and get better at football," said senior defensive back Devin Duckett, who also helped last summer. "It's not something we normally get to do, so it's a great experience."
Lawrence said his players get as much from the camp as the young participants.
"Being able to teach will help them because they have to really know this stuff to teach it. Plus there's just the satisfaction of giving back to these kids."
Tribune correspondent Kyle LoJacono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Kyle_LoJacono.