Branson camp, heat tests Wildcats

On two of the hottest days of the year, the Harrisonville football team and 27 other schools participated in Branson’s team camp in Branson July 28-29. The camp allowed teams to wear full pads and gave the Wildcats the first opportunity of the season to lineup against someone other than their own teammate.

“It’s something we needed to do,” head coach Kyle Schenker said. “We needed to throw them into the fire and see game speed and everything else you can’t simulate in practice. I think it showed them how fast they need to play and how tough they need to be.”

Other teams were not the only obstacles the Wildcats faced, as the heat index soared north of 100 degrees during the camp.

The coaching staff made sure the players were hydrated and received regular breaks, but the heat still tested the Wildcats desire to play.

“The heat was crazy. We were literally in the fire,” Schenker said. “The elements were insane. We battled day one and it was tough. I think some of them weren’t sure about day two, but we came out the next day and competed.”

On the field, athletes were able to show their abilities and prove to the coaches what they can do. With many spots and roles on the team still to be decided, this is the first full-speed look coaches get of their teams.

“When you go to a camp like this, things start to work themselves out,” Schenker said. “We start to see what we have and what we need to improve on. I thought our offensive and defensive line did a nice job and were starting to understand what they needed to do.”

Schenker said team camps like Branson are important to the development of teams and he was glad they got the opportunity this summer after Harrisonville was unable to attend a camp in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“It was the greatest thing ever, even with the heat,” Schenker said. “You could tell the kids, coaches, parents were enjoying themselves. It was a great, big slice of normalcy.

“If you don’t participate in a camp, it shows up week one. We can get some of that work in at a jamboree, but these camps give us an idea of what we need to do.”

With the Branson camp in the rear-view mirror, the Wildcats turn their attention to the start of practice Monday before playing in their home opener Aug. 27.