PILOT MOUNTAIN — The wait for Friday night lights is nearly over, as practice for the high school football season begins in less than a week. The youth of Pilot Mountain got a taste of Cardinal football during East Surry’s annual Gage Edwards Youth Football Camp.
Although new to the Cardinal community, head coach Trent Lowman acknowledged the importance of Edwards’ legacy. Edwards was a junior and East Surry football player before he passed away in 2015.
“It’s really important to the community and it’s an honor to hold it in his honor,” Lowman said.
The camp was held July 23 and 24 for children in second through eighth grade. Lowman and his assistant coaches, alongside a number of Cardinal players, put the campers through drills, held competitions, and helped make football fun for the next generation of players.
The youth gave Lowman a resounding welcome to the area by showing up to the camp. Fifty campers set aside four hours each day from their summer vacations to play football, and it certainly meant a lot to the coaching staff.
“To have 50 kids come out for two days and run around and learn football, and to have all our players out there, it was a very pleasant surprise and refreshing to see,” Lowman said.
Lowman said that the key to building a successful high school program starts with the youth.
“I think it’s important that in youth football they learn basic fundamentals and they learn to have fun,” Lowman said. “Running what we run, to me that’s not important. As long as they’re learning teamwork and basic fundamentals, listening to their coaches, and having fun, I think that’s of huge value to a high school program.”
Even the rain wasn’t enough to stop the camp. The refreshing mist cooled campers off as they completed their lineman drills and the Punt, Pass, and Kick Contest.
The coaches also mixed in life lessons amid the variety of football lessons. Camp counselors brought the kids together after each drill to yell “family!” among other uplifting mantras. The goal of the camp was to not only teach the fundamentals of football such as hitting, passing, and running, but also the camaraderie and fellowship that comes with it.
Lowman ended the camp by asking the kids if they had fun, to which a collective, “YES!” filled the locker room. The same response came when Lowman asked if everyone learned something. The coach’s final question of the camp was about whether or not the campers had a bed time. Many of the campers (and coaches) raised their hand. Lowman said that maybe some of the parents would have leniency on bedtimes come next Monday.
East Surry’s Midnight Madness marks the official beginning of the Cardinals’ season and will be held as soon as July 30 begins.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith