By Steve Williams

Preseason high school football is about getting in physical condition for the upcoming season and learning new plays and formations.

And more in some cases, as building team chemistry is just as important as the Xs and Os.

Not too long ago, some teams would go away for a week of camp at a college and scrimmage other teams that were also attending the camp.

For the second year under West Coach Lamar Brown, the Rebels had “camp” on its campus last week.

“They reported in at 7 o’clock Monday morning and we’re living here in the field house until Thursday around lunch,” said Coach Brown last Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a great experience being around these guys and it’s great getting to spend time as a team. A week together with no distractions or anything else.

“The kids are getting closer together, which is really big for us right now. We’re also getting better as a football team because we have some time to get things done.”

More specifically, the “no distractions” Coach Brown alluded to meant players couldn’t have their phones during camp.

As we know, in these times, that had to be quite a sacrifice for the high schoolers.

One evening at the West camp, the football players scrimmaged the school’s girls volleyball team, and the following night the boys and girls got together for a talent show.

“Players sleep in the weight room and our booster club/parents help provide all meals,” said Scott Shaver, Director of Operations for West High football.

“Volleyball was having camp during the day so we planned some activities together. Several of our players participated in the lip sync.”

Mo Madison, a rising junior wide receiver, said the team was having “a good bonding.”

“In camp, they take our phones and any electrical device so we can get close as a team,” explained Madison.

The hope is to create “a better brotherhood” among players, which could help us win games, added Mo.

“It has been successful and is getting better and better.”

As far as not having phones for over three days, Madison said, “Some people like it and some don’t. But once you get on the field, you don’t even think about it. You think of getting better as a team. That’s a positive outcome to it.”

Madison laughed about the volleyball competition against the Lady Rebels.

“In our free time, we scrimmaged the volleyball team’s first- team and second-team. They had two courts set up. Sometimes the girls won and sometimes the boys won. It was really competitive and fun.”

In a spot check at other Knox County schools, coaches were asked if football teams still go away to camp.

“I guess some do,” said Fulton’s Rob Black. “We do not. TSSAA has put too many practice restrictions in place for it to be worth going away.”

Black said Fulton conducted its own camp and spent one night at school.

South-Doyle Coach Clark Duncan said: “Several years ago, we all used to go to colleges for a week. We have not gone away for fall camp in over seven or eight years.

“The main reason for not going is the expense. The other reason was TSSAA put restrictions on how long you could be in pads per day, which eliminated the three-a-day sessions.”

Catholic Coach Steve Matthews said: “We do not go to a camp. We stay here and are typically done before lunch.”

Rusty Bradley of Grace Christian Academy said his team did not go to a camp, but acknowledged that teams, of course, continue to have preseason scrimmages per TSSAA policy.