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Mitchell to host football camp today

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About 250 high school football players are lining up today and Wednesday at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell for an individual skills camp.

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The camp is a part of the NFL High School Player Development Program and features a 7-on-7 tournament, where the top two teams are eligible to play in regions on June 24 and move on to the national level.

"These are held all over the nation," said Mitchell football coach Kent VanOverschelde, who started the process to get the camp to Mitchell in January. "It's sponsored through the NFL and National Guard. There are going to be area coaches and National Guard members assisting to the camp."

Teams participating in the camp are Mitchell, Avon, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, Canistota, Howard, McCook Central/Montrose, Parkston, Plankinton, Platte-Geddes, Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central, and Yankton. It is for players who will be freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school.

VanOverschelde said 37 Mitchell football players are signed up for the camp, which starts at 9 a.m. today with a character development curriculum and concussion information.

The camp is free, and the NFL provides a planner, a practice plan for the coaches, jerseys for the players and guidelines for the tournament. The players will be wearing shoulder pads and helmets, and the individual skills training will be for all positions.

"One thing that makes this possible is having the large facility that we do," VanOverschelde said. "Also, for us to be able to have a central location, the coaches and players want to come here and be a part of this. When we decided to hold this, the National Guard recruiters were instrumental on getting the information to the football coaches that this was going on."

Along with high school coaches, National Guard recruiters and Dakota Wesleyan University's football coaching staff will be helping in the individual drills, which start at 10 a.m. today and 9 a.m. Wednesday. Practice concludes about 4 p.m. each day.

Throughout each day, teams will play in the 7-on-7 single-elimination tournament with the first round starting at 11:20 a.m. today. Each team gets 12 players and two coaches to a roster, and only passing plays are allowed on a playing field of 40 yards. VanOverschelde said high school coaches from each team determine their rosters for the tournament. The second round will be this afternoon and the semifinals and championship are being played Wednesday.

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