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Football camp prepares players

A thundering herd was in the city last week. It wasn't animals, but a group of young football players.

A thundering herd was in the city last week. It wasn't animals, but a group of young football players.The Humboldt Collegiate Institute (HCI) football program held its fall camp last week, giving potential and returning players a taste of things to come."We started training camp this year knowing we had some extra time," said head coach Shaun Gardiner. "We had five practices last week and we have four this week before our first exhibition game, which will be a controlled scrimmage."HCI will head to Nipawin for their lone exhibition game on September 3.With the extra time, Gardiner and the rest of the coaches spent more time on reviewing the basics of football and polishing the fundamentals. They also worked on practice habits and conditioning."This week was awesome. We had time to get to know everybody and time to get everybody comfortable in their positions," Gardiner said. "We also became more fit. We worked on strength and cardiovascular training."With over 55 players at the camp, the extra time was important."We have a big contingent of rookies this year," Gardiner said. "With 32 to 35 juniors it was good to have the extra time to spend with them and get them used to our game."

The large number of younger players also has Gardiner optimistic about the future."Our Grade 12 group is quite large, so it's heartening to see a good mix of young players coming in," he said.The large number of players also means that HCI will be fielding an experienced team, with Grade 12 students filling most of the starting positions."We have the same quarterback as last year, the kickers are the same. We had some key positions filled by returning players," Gardiner said. "And we probably have the best team balance we've had in a number of years. We've been able to spread our strong athletes across the positions and not load up one side of the ball."The team also includes a number of players who attended football camps over the summer, including Jordon Hilgers, who played with Team Saskatchewan in the Canada Cup and came home with a gold medal."The players who worked out over the summer and participated in football camps look awesome," Gardiner stated.With a successful camp behind the team, Gardiner is looking forward to a good season.

"We always go into the season with the expectation that we can compete with anybody in the province," he said. "Right now, I'm not worried that we can't get the job done."HCI is playing in the North East Nine Man Football Conference along with Foam Lake, Melfort, Nipawin, Tisdale, and Wynyard.The team's first two games of the regular season are in Melfort on Sept. 10 and in Foam Lake on Sept. 17.HCI's first home game is on Sept.23, their only Thursday game, when they host Nipawin.On September 25, HCI is hosting the annual Rookie Jamboree which will see young players from Watrous, Melville, and Delisle come to the city for the day of football.On October 1, Tisdale will be in Humboldt, while on October 8, HCI travels to Wynyard for their second last game of the season.HCI's final home game and last of the regular season will see Melfort come to Glenn Hall Park in Humboldt on October 15.The league playoffs will take place on October 23.

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