Due to new Oregon School Activities Association restrictions limiting the number of full contact plays, the Canby High football team's annual summer camp, quite literally, culminated with more of a whimper than a bang.
Instead of two days of full contact scrimmages against about 10 schools, the Cougars played just a couple scrimmages with pads, a few more 7-on-7 tag football games and competed in a lineman challenge – all against Summit, Beaverton and Oregon City.
Canby head coach Mike Vaught is perturbed by the increased restrictions, but says the camp went well in spite of the changes.
"I didn't think I would like it but it worked out OK. We came out of it injury free, which is important for us," Vaught said. "It was as good of a day as I could have hoped for considering the changes."
In the contact scrimmages, each athletes was allowed to play 15 plays on offense and 15 plays on defense. Canby's starters and second string accumulated their reps mostly against Beaverton – which runs a spread offense. Vaught says he didn't glean as much information about his team as in year's past.
"You just have a lot smaller window to take a look at your kids," he said. "We didn't get to see a lot of run. We saw one type of offense and in a short window. You can't see as much as you could in the past."
The linemen challenge featured tug of war, the fireman's carry, bench press, shuttle run and 40-yard-dash.
The Cougars finished second in the tug of war while Jacob Heininge and Kory Ruebesam excelled in the individual drills.
Ruebesam lifted 180 pounds 21 times while Heininge managed 19 reps and both also performed well in the fireman's carry – where participants walked as far as they could in under a minute while carrying a 315-pound bar.
Vaught was pleased with his passing attack's performance in the seven-on-seven games and hopes to develop a more reliable play action passing threat next season than in year's past.
"It's as good as we've thrown the ball in years," Vaught said. "Some things didn't click for us in the passing game. It's been a struggle for us. This year we have guys who can throw, guys who can catch. A big part of us not scoring is because they could put 9-to-10 guys in the box (to stop the run)."
Trent Wakefield is the front-runner for the starting quarterback job while Payton Miller and Tyler Marsh are also vying for the coveted spot and Luke Scott and Aaron Kromer are currently the Cougars top receivers.
Canby incorporated some veer offensive wrinkles into the game plan last season and will continue to do so this season while still utilizing a wing-t base formation. And, as always, running the ball will be the Cougars calling card. Jacob Huggins returns as the Cougars starting wing-back while Joe Henry and Tristan Ramirez are competing for running back spots and Devin Thacker, Elijah Donalson and a few others could also contribute in the backfield.
And they will play behind a largely inexperienced offensive line.
"Our offensive line is a question mark going in. We're not bringing back one starter. Fortunately, they're good, hard working, dedicated kids. They did about as good as I would have hoped in the scrimmage," Vaught said.
However, led by Dalton Sherrill, Kyler Boyd, Sam Shuey and others, Vaught expects the Cougars defensive line to be a strength next season.
"I'm really pleased with how they played all week long. They disrupted Beaverton and Sunset quite a bit," Vaught said.
While Canby moved from a 4-3 front seven formation to a 3-4 last season, Vaught says the Cougars will move back to a 4-3, or a 4-2-5 depending on the situation, to improve their run defense and accentuate their strength up front.
"We have some very talented defensive linemen so it makes sense to have four on the field instead of three," Vaught said.
Henry, Kromer and Scott will also contribute to the Cougars secondary while Huggins and Nick Ramos could spearhead Canby's linebacking corps.
Vaught says the full contact scrimmage limits are to blame for lower turnout amongst opposing schools.
He's frustrated with the OSAA's gradually more restrictive policies and believes coaches can keep players safe without the constraints.
"I was upset that the OSAA is now stepping in and trying to dictate what we can do. We wish they could leave us alone. As coaches we know that the most important thing we have is our kids. We will do everything we can to protect them. All of the stereotypes from the past are gone. It's sad that the OSAA thinks they have to go in and regulate us," Vaught said.
With the camp in the rearview mirror, Canby will hold conditioning sessions from June 26-Aug. 9. The sessions are open to all Canby middle school and high school athletes between seventh and 12th grade.