St. Paul continues to prep for the move to 11-man football at preseason team camp

ST. PAUL — St. Paul has been busy preparing to make the jump from 8-man to 11-man football all summer and got back to work last week at its annual preseason team camp.

“Switching back to 11-man is like going back to younger days, fourth- and fifth- and sixth-grade,” senior Cody Faber said. “It’s kind of exciting.”

The Bucks began the transition to 11-man with classroom sessions at the end of the school year and saw their first action at the Gold Beach team camp, where they scrimmaged with their full squad and participate in 7-on-7 contests. Photo Credit: SETH GORDON - Runningback Ryan Soumokil said he is looking forward to the Bucks' change from 8-man to 11-man football. ‘I think it's going to be a lot of fun,' he said during a preseason camp last week.

“They enjoyed all of that, so I think they’re enjoying it,” head coach Tony Smith said. “There’s a little more to 11-man as far as coverages you might see or the fronts you might see or the fronts you might be in. That’s all different. A lot of times I think different is exciting. Change is exciting if you approach it correctly.”

For some players, like diminutive running back Ryan Soumokil, 11-man will be a welcome change of pace because of the greater variety of positions offered.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Soumokil said. “There are a lot more openings for smaller guys and it’s a better game than 8-man; 8-man is a lot of running. You just get to the sideline and it’s easy. With this you have to do a lot more.”

The camp followed the OSAA’s mandatory moratorium on team activities or “dead week,” so the energy at camp was high.

“I think everybody’s just ready to get into it,” Soumokil said. “The weather has just been nice. It hasn’t been too hot where people are just dying and it hasn’t been freezing, so everybody is just pumped up to play football.”

With another week to drill on 11-man formations, especially on defense where the concepts change a lot more drastically than they do on offense, Smith said he hasn’t gotten the feeling the team is further behind than it would be if it had stayed in Class 1A.

The players, who kicked off three weeks of official practice Monday before the season opener versus Crow at home Sept. 5, have also been pleasantly surprised with the process.

“It’s a lot smoother than I expected,” Faber said. “I thought it’d be a lot rockier. I didn’t think it would be that rocky, but maybe a little hitch in it. It’s actually been a lot smoother. I like it.”

For junior Nick Gooding, getting back onto the practice field just means that life is returning to normal, no matter how many players St. Paul will take the field.

“Football is a lifestyle around here,” Gooding said. “As soon as baseball or whatever you do in the spring ends, you switch into football and it’s that until it ends.”

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