FLORENCE — Many sports fans get into football mode once the calendar turns its page to August.
But in Florence, the Buffaloes coaching staff has been preparing for the 2014 season all summer and worked with future players at the Florence Football Camp this week.
“I never turn it off, I’m always thinking football,” Florence defensive coordinator Richard Scales said with a grin.
The camp was the first football camp run by Florence head football coach and athletic director Joey McQueen since he was hired in December.
About 36 seventh-graders through high school freshmen participated in the camp that emphasized all three facets of the game.
New Florence offensive coordinator Keith Virdell hopes the camp will prove beneficial for the kids participating, getting them plenty of repetitions under a new offensive system.
“Anytime a kid is willing to learn and you don’t have to reteach them, it means you can install more depth into our offense and that is always a good thing,’ Virdell said.
Freshman C.J. Giddens attended the camp as a way to get a head start on adjusting from running a spread in middle school last year to the Slot T that he will now run as a junior varsity quarterback.
Giddens also attended the Florence High School strength and conditioning camp this summer and took notice at the way the coaches led by example.
“I think it was more important because they were serious about helping us and getting us better,” Giddens said. “That showed us a lot of support.”
The first day of high school fall football practice for Class 3A schools is Monday.
Florence Middle School’s seventh-grade quarterback is Christian Broekhuizen, younger brother of Florence High senior tight end and defensive end Dallas. The camp gave Christian a chance to learn a little about the new offense, including the reads quarterbacks need to make.
Though school lets out in May, football coaches don’t have much down-time once students are out and about.
Scales said he took a week off after the school year, then it was back to work on game plans for different kinds of offenses and preparations for the fall.
But that’s summer as a Texas high school football coach.
“I love football, I love working with the kids,” Scales said. “It’s what I do. My family, my wife knows that and I set aside family time, they know that.”
Florence is coming off a 1-9 season and have made the playoffs twice in 55 years. The Buffaloes haven’t reached the playoffs since 2001, but are entering their first season under McQueen, a turnaround specialist.
In three seasons in Lampasas, McQueen went 19-14 and made two playoff appearances. He won his first game as Lampasas’ head coach in 2009 and helped the team rebound from an 0-20 record the previous two seasons.
The 2011 season was his most successful, as Lampasas finished 10-2 and won its first district title in 25 years.
In previous head coaching stops, McQueen helped Smithville win its first game in two seasons and led San Angelo Lakeview to the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.
After the camp, McQueen gathered the participants in a circle, had them talk about some of the things they learned and campers said a lot of positive things about their teammates.
And the kids broke the huddle shouting a meaningful date they’ve been working toward.