PRAIRIE GROVE -- Last week's Prairie Grove's summer pee wee football camp turned into a smashing success for those who enjoy "smashmouth football," including coaches, participants and parents on hand to observe.
That's a good thing for a football program being bumped up from Class 4A to 5A by the Arkansas Activities Association for the 2022-2024 cycle.
Although there was no full-contact, boys entering grades 1-7 got to try their hand at practicing a variety of basic football skills. They tackled a dummy, learned footwork, practiced agility by rolling out of a bear crawl, sprinted and engaged in punt, pass and kicking competitions.
According to camp director John Elder, who is junior high head football coach, a total of 85 kids came out for each session. Sessions for grades 1-3 were held Monday through Wednesday for two hours followed by grades 4-7 also for two hours at Prairie Grove's Tiger Stadium.
"We had a great turnout this year," Elder said.
Coaches emphasized maximizing individual effort going all-out during sprints, and not to be disappointed if a teammate outruns them.
"Remember only one can be the fastest, but everyone can run as hard as you can. That's how we win games," said Defensive Coordinator Craig Laird.
Coming in first by classes were: Carter Lisir, fourth grade; Brody Gunther, fifth grade; Semmie Gunther, sixth grade; and Brody Williamson, seventh grade.
Semmie Gunther showed good acceleration, winning easily even though he took a bit of a diagonal angle, prompting coach Mason Pinkley to say, "He smoked them by a country mile."
Henry Stephens, a rising fifth grader, wore a professional football t-shirt from another team while admitting his favorite NFL franchise is the Kansas City Chiefs. Henry expressed gratitude to his parents, Jason and Tuesday Stephens, for allowing him to participate in the camp.
"It toughens you up a lot and I just want to say 'thank you' to my parents," Henry said.
Another rising fifth grader, Mason Love, said, "It's awesome," and said he was learning football skills like "throwing, punting, kicking."
Their classmate, Jackson Bryant, agreed with benefits of "hands on" football activity provided by the camp, which focused on building basic fundamentals for all positions through position-specific drills and endeavored to teach campers how to practice with intensity.
"I think the camp's good for a bunch of kids our age. If you like football it's good to come do this," Jackson said. "You know it's just something during the summer that in the off-season not many kids get to come do this, but if you can I think it's a good thing to do over the summer."
Noah Barnes was among the rising fifth graders, enjoying learning proper football techniques by engaging in agility drills.
"I think this camp is really fun and people who can come should come because it's just really fun at all the stations," Noah said.
Awards were given in many categories and participants received a camp T-shirt.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/A trio of future Prairie Grove Tigers (from left): Noah Barnes (rising fifth grader), Copeland Myers (rising fourth grader), and Mayson Chronister (rising sixth grader) run across Prairie Grove's legendary Tiger Den Stadium during a pee wee football camp held on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove rising seventh grader Brody Williamson wins the race of champions — beating the fourth, fifth and sixth grade winners during Prairie Grove's pee wee football camp last week.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove rising fifth grader Cash Oxford throws the football during the punt, pass and kick portion of Prairie Grove's annual pee wee football camp held last week at Tiger Den Stadium.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/A quartet of future Prairie Grove Tigers (from left): Copeland Myers (rising fourth grader), Noah Barnes (rising fifth grader), Mayson Chronister (rising sixth grader), and Chantry O'Brien (rising seventh grader) work on their footwork on Wednesday, June 9 at Prairie Grove's pee wee football camp.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove rising fifth grader Noah Barnes throws the football as far as he can during the punt, pass and kick competition at Prairie Grove's pee wee football camp.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove rising sixth grader Kristopher Phipps sprints in the footsteps of legendary Tigers, who preceded him in the school's football program which has thrived under head coach Danny Abshier since he took over in 1993.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove rising fourth grader Carter Lisir crosses the finish line first as Prairie Grove head football coach Danny Abshier (upper right) pumps a fist. Carter won the fourth grade sprint by such a margin that assistant coach Mason Pinkley said, "he smoked them by a country mile."
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove rising seventh grader Chantry O'Brien works his way across the field while practicing football skills during a recent pee wee camp conducted by the Tiger varsity football coaches.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove's Corbin Dobbs (left), and Corbin Ball, both rising seventh graders, enjoyed participating in Prairie Grove's annual pee wee football camp last week.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove's 2021 pee wee football camp under the direction of head junior high coach John Elder drew 170 boys eager to learn and enhance their football skills.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove rising sixth grader Eli Abshier sprints while Prairie Grove Defensive Coordinator Craig Laird times him. Eli is the grandson of head coach Danny Abshier.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove rising fifth grader Jackson Bryant practices kicking off from a tee while Prairie Grove pee wee football camp director John Elder oversees the activity. Elder organizes the event annually to prepare the next generation of Prairie Grove football players.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove rising sixth grader Mayson Chronister rolls out of a bear crawl while participating in an agility drill during Prairie Grove's annual pee wee football camp on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Skyler Clinkscales punts the football during the punt, pass and kicking portion of Prairie Grove's annual pee wee football camp held last week at Tiger Den Stadium.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Learning to tackle correctly is a basic football skill taught at last week's annual Prairie Grove pee wee football camp.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove rising fifth grader Zayland Chronister (left) and Aiden Wilson, a rising seventh grader, eagerly prepare for the next drill while assistant coach Nik Paroubek supervises. The boys were among 170 youth attending Prairie Grove's pee wee football camp last week.
MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER/Prairie Grove assistant varsity and head junior high football coach John Elder organizes an annual pee wee football camp.