Highlander pride at football camp

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  • Strength training can be fun, like in this tug of war activity.

  • Campers at the Highlander Football Camp played a flag football game during the camp.

  • High five! Sportsmanship is always a priority at the camp.

  • Those attending the Highlander Football Camp focused on sportsmanship and safety as well as skills.

  • Nice catch!

  • A blocking drill at the camp.


Young and aspiring football players were given the opportunity earlier this summer to take part in The Highlander Pride Youth Football Camp, instituted by high school coaches Don Dougherty and Gary Stoll. Running in early July, it took place on the McCormick Field at West Milford High School and was open for kids from first to eighth grade. Each day, they arrived bright and early, excited to begin their training, and practiced from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The morning sessions were composed of proper warm ups, speed and agility drills, offensive and defensive positioning drills, and special teams such as punting, snapping, kicking, and returning. Coach Steve Leo from Parisi Speed School in Sparta helped out with this, working with the young players on each one, and even having them rotate through the positional drills in order to learn each position on the field.

After their lunch break, they finished off the day with lessons in proper tackling for all non player-to-player contact drills and some fun, competitive games.

Each day wasn’t all work and no play, though — their last day of camp ended up being a full competition day, with the different age groups competing in their respective punt, pass, kick, or speed competitions. Everyone then came together for the overall team championships as a great way to finish off a successful camp experience.  

Not only was the purpose of this camp to give players the opportunity to try out football and become a better player, but to also promote positivity for the sport.

“We want our town to understand that we, at West Milford High School, as well as many other teams through the state, are taking the necessary precautions we can to keep our players safe,” said Don Dougherty, head coach of the varsity team.

Speaking of safety, new equipment and rules have been implemented as a way to ensure that the sport will be both enjoyable and safe for those involved. In fact, the staff at the high school spends a majority of the off-season learning new non-contact drills for tackling, and are all concussion, heat illness, and USA Heads Up Football certified. Although there are new style tackling dummies to safely teach the players, there are also weekly contact limitations at the high school level to reduce the risk of injury.

West Milford coaches and staff are working overtime to make the experience safe and fun for all of the players.                        

For more photos, go to westmilfordmessenger.com.

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