For the third-straight year, football fans have had the opportunity to be reunited with an old friend; the sound of pads cracking in July. The M&M Full Contact Team Camp gave teams the opportunity to put on the pads and go toe-to-toe with teams around the area.
Friends University head football coach Monty Lewis and defensive coordinator Matt Welch started the camp three years ago when the KSHSAA changed the rules, allowing for full contact practice earlier in the offseason.
“A lot of the local coaches around the area wanted to put on a camp and asked us to help run it since the new state rules allow it,” said Welch.
“It’s just really out of need,” said Lewis. “It’s out of a need for somebody to step in and, number one, follow the rules, but provide the opportunity to give these guy some quality practice against quality teams. That’s the way it’s come out.”
Over the past three years of the camp, there has been no shortage of quality teams. State champions like Wichita Heights, Hutchinson, and Conway Springs have all taken advantage of the M&M camp over the course of its brief history.
This summer Wichita Heights, Maize, Andover Central, and Halstead attended the camp, with Emporia coming out on Thursday.
The camp also provides a unique opportunity for smaller teams, like 3A Halstead this year, to test themselves against teams like Wichita Heights, who have won a 6A state title and a runner-up trophy over the last two seasons.
While some camps present a series of drills to run through, the M&M camp gives players a chance to just play football. Over the course of two and a half hours, teams rotate out running plays. Offensive teams run a play every three plays, while a defense stays out for four before switching out.
“That’s football in a nutshell,” said Lewis. “You can’t get better thinking about it. You have to get out there and do it. It really just gives coaches a chance to evaluate their players. You can’t really evaluate them in the weight room. Yeah, that kid is strong, but can he make a play? Well, this gives them a chance. And it’s just hundreds of reps by the time three days are done. So that’s the main thing, is just getting them out and getting them back going with it. It gets them acclimated to the heat too when their fall camp starts. It’s a win-win on all those fronts.”
The camp was held at Heights for the second year in a row, a relationship that has worked out well for everyone.
“We are in partnership with the City League,” said Welch. “They get a donation to the football program; we get to use the facilities. We will continue to have it here as long as things go as well as they are. (Heights head coach Rick) Wheeler does a great job in hosting it and providing the setup for us and making things happen.”