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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Rams fare well against tough opponents at Pitt State football camp

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  • It's dark in the Pleasant Ridge High School library, save for a running projector hanging from the ceiling.
    Huddled around the projector are 22 Rams football players, eager to see themselves perform on the big screen as the team watches film from the Pittsburg State University team football camp earlier this week.
    Head coach Pat McCollim stands in front, praising good plays and pointing out flaws in bad ones.
    In his third-year as head coach, McCollim said team participation has been growing steadily, with 25 players attending the Pitt State camp, and now that he's watched the camp film with the team, he said his path for the rest of the summer is more clear.
    "(The film) allows you to identify what you need to focus the rest of your summer on," McCollim said ."We can now focus on what we need to get fixed by August."
    The camp pitted the Rams against 17 other high schools from the region, most of which were larger 4A-6A schools.
    Even though Pleasant Ridge was the smallest school at the camp, both in division and in size, senior lineman Kyle Jones said the team's performance against bigger programs will be a source of confidence come August.
    "It's just a good experience," Jones said. "You play against teams probably better than the competition we'll play during the season. So, it tests to see if we can handle them, and if we can handle them, obviously we could probably do a lot better against the teams in our league."
    With seven total practices in a two-and-a-half day span, the team was able to get more than 350 repetitions in the high-tempo environment facilitated by Pittsburg State's coaching staff.
    The camp was circuit-based, meaning three offenses would face one defense, with each rotating with nine-play sets.
    More than anything else, McCollim said taking his team to the Pitt State camp showed him that the Rams roster he's working with might be small, but it packs a powerful charge.
    "I saw that my team has a lot of heart," McCollim said. "We played teams that were 6A, teams that had 70 kids down there — we had 25. By the third day, we had just as much energy as those guys."
    Before heading to Pittsburg, senior lineman Will Gross said the team had a week of camp, which was primarily focused on installing the offense and getting players acquainted with minor off-season tweaks McCollim made. Now that camp is over, Gross said the team will re-shift its focus back to getting the playbook down.
    "We're going to be working on the offense for most of the rest of the summer," Gross said. "Even when we can't do that, we're going to be coming into the weight room and working out. So, we should be conditioned and ready to go for the first game."
    Page 2 of 2 - The Rams are coming off a season in which they had eight players receive All-Northeast Kansas League honors on the way to a 5-5 overall record and a third-place finish in the league.
    McCollim said his team's progression not only on the field but off it shows how far the program has come since he took the reins.
    "I think it's been progressing well," McCollim said. "We've increased our participation in the weight room, which was kind of my first emphasis as I got here. Kids are buying in, we're now more familiar with my offensive and defensive schemes."
    The Rams' first game will be in August against Atchinson High School. Atchison ran away from Pleasant Ridge, 35-16, in last season's opener.

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