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Mudcats football camp returns this weekend

Last year’s staff for the Merrimack Mudcats Football Camp returns this weekend. From left to right: Roland James, Ronnie Lippett, Tim Snow, Vernon Crawford and Robert Perryman. Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
July 18, 2011
TILTON – With summer in full swing, area football youths will get the opportunity to prepare for the fall season, as the 2011 Merrimack Mudcats Football Camp will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Route 132 Football Field in Tilton.

"We kind of realized there weren't any really good football camps for kids in the area so we got involved," said Mudcats president Tim Snow. "I have a bunch of contacts with guys from the New England Patriots and I had done some camps at different locations so we put this camp together last year for the first time and it was a success."

Last year marked the first Mudcats camp, with about 125 kids in attendance for the two days. With four former Patriots instructing, things went so smoothly that this year's version will likely top that draw.

"Last year was very well received," Snow said. "It was a two-day, full contact camp with full pads and that's what we're going with again this year. We wanted to make it affordable and we didn't want it to be just a walkthrough. We didn't want to waste people's money and have them not really get anything out of it, plus we wanted to keep the ratio of camper to instructor low."

This weekend's camp will also be full pads for both days, with registration running from 7 to 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Both days will run until 5 p.m. with the cost of the camp running $99 per camper. Players from ages seven to 18 are invited to the camp, with a cap of 200 campers expected.

The instructing crew of former Patriots will see a group of recognizable names, as Ronnie Lippett, Roland James, Vernon Crawford and Robert Perryman will lead both days of drills and competition for the second year in a row. But Snow has added two more instructors, as Patriots Hall of Famer Steve Nelson and 1987 Outland Trophy winner from Boston College Mike Ruth will also take part in the camp.

"It's very rare that you get to talk to someone that used to play in the NFL, much less get one-on-one instruction from these guys," said Snow.

The Mudcats, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, donated a bulk of the money raised last year to the Franklin-Tilton Falcons, and this year a different local football organization will be targeted in a similar fashion.

"The big difference this year is we're going to separate it by age and grade," said Snow. "That way the instructors can focus towards a certain age group. It's tough to have a junior or senior in high school in the same group as a third or fourth grader."

The schedule each day will consist of warm-ups and conditioning in the morning, followed by a morning session and lunch. An afternoon session will take place before things wind down between 4 and 5 p.m.

"We're going to have four different three-hour blocks in different positions," explained Snow. "Then the last 15 minutes or so, we're going to match the lines and positions against each other to put what they learned to use. By the end of the day on Sunday, we should be able to put complete teams out there, line up and see how it goes."

After the success of last year's camp, registration began early in the winter months.

"It went smoother this year," Snow said. "We start advertising in January and February and this year was nice because word of mouth from last year really helped us with the advertising we could do."

For more information on the camp or to register, contact Tim Snow at merrimackmudcats@hotmail.com or visit the team's Web site at www.eteamz.com/merrimackmudcatsfootballclub.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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