Passing leagues help prep football players fine tune skills


DENMARK — Many high school students take the summer to relax and get as far away from campus as possible. Some prep football players, however, are putting in work instead of working on their tans.

“We just like to be our family, our family’s our football team,” said Denmark High School quarterback John Deprey. “We love it, so we’re out here.”

Deprey and his Vikings teammates are taking part in a four-school summer passing league, one of many such leagues across our area. Denmark is joined by De Pere, Wrightstown and Freedom playing 7-on-7 scrimmages once a week throughout July.

“[You work on] execution and just doing things to a ‘T,’” said Wrightstown tight end Jacob Gilson. “The little things.”

The games are optional for players, and give the teams a chance to work primarily on what you’d expect in a passing league: passing. The games at Denmark were largely low-key with score kept pretty loosely.

One component missing from the games in addition to running plays and pads: coaches. High school football coaches are allowed very limited access to their teams during the summer, so while they set up the fields at Denmark and are on-hand for safety, the games are largely run by the players. They call the plays, make subs and ensure their teammates are doing the right thing.

“Senior leaders really have to step up,” said Gilson. “Underclassmen have to step up, too. Kind of direct things, keep kids focused. For weight lifting programs, keep kids motivated.”

Many players say they’d rather be playing football than a more typical summer activity like lounging on the beach. It’s fun being with their friends, they say, and the work is crucial if they want a successful season once the school year rolls around.

“Everyone out there wants to win,” said Denmark cornerback Nick Kufalk. “We’re all competitive. It’s important to us.”

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