Dragons hit the weights with high hopes for 2021

Echoes of clanging weights and heavy-metal music filled the Cameron High School hallways as athletes prepare for the upcoming fall sports season.

With the football team fielding more than 70 athletes alone, the turnout for the CHS summer strength and conditioning program has impressed CHS coaches.

"It's fast-paced, but that's how we roll out here. We play fast so we decided if we're going to play fast, then we're going to workout fast too," said Cameron coach Jeremy Smith, who works with the football team's special teams and skill players.

As part of the program, athletes are split into two groups. While one group at Dave Goodwin Memorial Field works on speed and agility exercises, the other hits the does a focused circuit routine inside the weight room. All the while, some athletes keep an up-tempo by jogging from the football field to the weight room for an added benefit. 

"It's very important. We're not one of the bigger schools around, but we have some decent size so we need to put on some weight and get stronger," said Caleb Rick, who catapulted himself into the starting lineup last season after putting on more than 20 pounds of muscle in the 2020 offseason. "It's great. We haven't seen a lot of kids come out for football like this in the past few years. We have to team them our values, get stronger and get them ready for their senior year ... My goal for bench is 315, which isn't great in hindsight, but it's a start."

After graduating more than a dozen seniors last spring, the Dragons look to make the most of the offseason. That is a stark contrast from 2020, when a COVID-19 outbreak that began at a CHS wrestling camp spread to numerous athletes across all sports and postponing vital training. One player hoping to make the most of the offseason is senior Cordell Fish, who looks to replace recently graduated All-Midland Empire Conference linebacker Cam Hedgpeth at middle linebacker.

"I feel like we've all gotten better and worked hard. Of course, I'm new but I feel like I've played with these kids since I was young," said Fish, who played for Osborn in 2020. "I like how we all get in there and get after it. We're on each other every day and getting our one percent (improvement) every day ... I love the (weightlifting) program and how we do things as a team." 

For junior Brandon Wheeler, a first-year player at receiver, the strength and conditioning  program has been a trial by fire. 

"It's been very hard and entertaining ... I'm just trying to get one percent better every day. I just wanted to try something new. It's wonderful. I'm a wide receiver. It's not bad, but everyone can work harder to get better," Wheeler said.

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