A winning football program doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment from the players and a drive to put in the work.
Derby football players are taking time over the summer to refine their craft to write their own chapter in the Panther football program while also pursuing a future at the next level. The summer provides an opportunity to improve for the upcoming season and get noticed by colleges through camps and college visits.
The offseason is a time where colleges offer camps and schedule recruiting visits as an opportunity to see prospective recruits in action and build the relationship with players. The recent success at Derby has brought a lot of college-level attention to the program.
“We like it when our kids go to camp,” Derby head coach Brandon Clark said. “They are doing football stuff learning from college coaches, and it is a good experience for them.”
The number of camps ramped up this year to make up for lost time after the 2020 camps were cancelled.
“It’s kind of like we hit both extremes,” Clark said. “Last summer, they had nothing, and then this year, they just opened up in June for camps and stuff. It seemed like everybody was having a camp in June. It is a good way to see some kids in person and to … let the kids see their campus.”
According to head coach Brandon Clark, many players have been participating in camps and visits.
“We have had a ton,” Clark said. “I would say that there have been probably 20 to 30 kids at the various colleges.”
This group of Derby players has not let it be a distraction and still keep the focus on Derby football.
“Our kids are bought in,” Clark said. “They know that they have to do good in high school ball if they want to be recruited, and they have done what we asked.”
There is only so much that a school can do as far as offseason practices. There is a set break for all sports practices, but its purpose is for the benefit of the athletes. According to the KSHSAA practice guidelines, all sports must take a temporary week-long pause. To Clark, the break is valuable for the athletes.
“I was happy because it makes all sports shut down,” Clark said. “It just gives the kids a full week off just to be kids, so I think it is a good thing.”
Clark and his coaches decided to schedule around the much-needed pause to get the most out of the summer training time.
“We talked with our coaches, and we were seeing that we kind of plateaued in the summer with our strength training, and it was due to taking a week off,” Clark said. “We moved our football camp before the break, and now we have a full July to lift every day and do speed training.”
Later this month, the team will be headed to Kansas City to participate in a seven-on-seven showcase against schools in the Kansas City area, including Mill Valley. Not only is it a time to get some extra work in a game setting, but it also helps develop relationships while on the trip.