An outpouring of community support allowed 38 members of the MPHS Panther football team to attend a competitive, team-based camp from June 8-11 in Nebraska to prepare for next season.
"There is no way it would have been possible to take that many players and pay for the travel expenses without the generosity of several local businesses and the Independent Sports Club (ISC) who donated nearly half the costs to attend. I encourage you to support and thank the ISC for all that they do for the youth of Grand County," said head football coach Troy Schmidt.
"They are an amazing organization that make things happen for kids," he added. "Special thanks also go to the following businesses who selflessly donated significant resources during these hard economic times: Ranch Creek Ltd. Log products, Mountain Auto, Mark Kreig Accounting, Tabernash Construction, Big Valley Construction, NAPA, Brickhouse 40, Sani-King, and Carquest. We have lofty goals next season in addition to our basics of building young men and character through football. I want to personally thank all these businesses for supporting us in our quest to reach these goals."
The team had a long trip, and coach Schmidt was able to break up the drive by using his background from Active-Duty Air Force and present Air National Guard contacts as a lieutenant colonel and pilot. A tour was arranged of a C-130, which is one of the many airplanes that Schmidt has flown in his career.
"It was a great opportunity for our kids to see that the same principles and work ethic we teach everyday on the football field apply to almost any other thing that they may pursue in life, including the military," said Schmidt.
Once the team arrived, they were pitted against several teams from many states, a few of which included: Gordon-Rushville Neb.; Cody, Wyo.; Moorcroft, S.D.;, Ainsworth Neb.; Kemmerer, Wyo.; Kimball, Neb.; Burns, Wyo.; and Hershey, Neb.
This camp gives the team an excellent opportunity to see how they stack up against top-notch teams whom they normally don't compete against. Five of the teams MPHS went against were playoff teams from last year, and Cody, Wyo., is a school with over 700 kids who were the #2 team in the state of Wyoming last year and have only lost two games in the last two years.
"We were definitely looking forward to seeing where we stand against a successful program like the Broncs from Cody, Wyo.," said Schmidt.
Well, the Panthers found out quickly that they were the class of the camp after scoring 5 times vs. Cody's 0 in a 32-play, live scrimmage. The Panthers went on to be undefeated after scrimmaging the majority of teams in attendance while several players caught the eye of both college and high school coaches.
"It is exciting for our kids to finally get some recognition for all the hard work and sacrifices we have asked them to make," said Schmidt. "However, we have a long way to go, we must remember what it took to get us this far and not rest on old habits. We have to continue to work hard every possible day this summer in the weight room."
Any prospective high-school student-athletes can come to the high school weight room Mondays through Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 a.m. and 5:30-7 p.m. to make themselves better for any sport.