Gary Larson Column: Coach sees benefits from Winona Football Camp

When a coach finds something that’s working, the coach stays with it.

That’s how Milaca Football Coach Randy Johnson feels about the Winona State University Summer Football Camp. Johnson’s team attended the Winona camp for the seventh year in a row July 14-17. Besides Johnson, Milaca’s delegation included 26 players and six coaches from the varsity, junior varsity and ninth grade programs.

“We’ve seen a good benefit to attending the camp each year,” said Johnson. “It’s a good way for our team to begin to bond and start thinking about the season ahead,

“We get to see how other teams approach things and we’re able to take away some things from them as well as the camp instructors.”

There were 10 high schools and nearly 300 players at this year’s Winona event.

“Winona coaches run all of the individual techniques sessions,  while high school coaches run practice for team strategies,” said Johnson. “The camp gives us the opportunity to install some offensive and defensive sets and then see them in action in live scrimmages.”

So, how did things go this time?

“We felt very optimistic about the scrimmages,  working against teams like Winona,  St. Peter, Lake City,  even a team from Thunder Bay, Ontario,” said Johnson.  “In all of the scrimmages we were able to move the ball well both on the ground and in the air.  We had the opportunity to try many different players at running back and wide receiver positions.

“We were a little concerned going in to the camp that we would be a little thin at the offensive and defensive line positions. We were able to move some players who have been running backs to work as offensive linemen.  They did a great job and took on the challenge to help our offense experience  a lot of success. These players gave up some time carrying the ball to help on the offensive line.  We were able to really make some progress at center,  guard and tackle.

Anyone stand out for the Wolves?

“Without naming individual players at this time, we were excited about our performance at wide receiver, with some outstanding catches being made during the 7-on-7 tournament.

“This camp gives us the opportunity to see a wide variety of offensive sets and gives us  a chance to check out our defensive philosophy and ability to adjust. We continue to see the development of some wide open offensive philosophies including:  Woodbury’s unbalanced single wing attack and  Thunder Bay’s air attack.”

Milaca won 7-on-7 contests against Rochester John Marshall and St. Peter.

“Overall, we looked good in the scrimmages and drills,” said Johnson.

The Wolves begin fall practice Monday, Aug. 12, at 7 a.m. Athletes should report to the locker room to sign in and check out lockers.

Practice for the first two weeks will run from  7 a.m.  to   12:30, with an hour break  from  9:30 – 10:30.

Milaca opens the season with a non-conference game Thursday, Aug. 29, at Pierz, then begins Granite Ridge Conference play Friday, Sept. 6, at Foley. The Wolves’ first home game is Friday, Sept. 13, against Little Falls at Claffy Field.

Pierz, 8-2 last season, will provide a tough opener for the Wolves.