The fundamentals of football are regularly preached by Seaford varsity football coach Rob Perpell to his high school players. But knowing that the basics of the sport have to be learned at a much earlier age, he started an annual summer football camp for the Seaford-based Long Island Broncos.
Perpall, his assistant coaches and players from the Vikings hosted the camp last week on the Seaford High School football field. Throughout the two-day program, youth football players learned many skills they will need to be successful now and in the future.
While the focus is on safety, Perpall and his assistants teach techniques from carrying the football to defending an opponent. He stresses the importance of conditioning and agility. “Slow and clumsy doesn’t win many games,” he told a group of more than 60 Broncos players on July 30.
Perpall, who has coached in Seaford for 20 years, said he sees this camp as a way for himself and his players to give back to the community. The camp is free, because his goal is helping young football players reach their potential.
Many players from the Broncos will go on to play for the Vikings in their high school years. Perpall said having a feeder program like the Broncos, with talented volunteer coaches, is why Seaford football enjoys consistent winning seasons.
“That’s one of the reasons why we’re so successful here,” he said, “because of them.”
Joe Viscio, president of the Broncos, said the camp makes a difference. His players start their seasons more polished and ready to play. “This is just the basic building blocks,” he said of the camp.
Viscio has high praise for the work Perpall, his staff and players do with the young Broncos.
Doug Schiller, a coach of one of the 10-year-old teams, said his players look forward to the camp every year. “They’re learning a little extra than say what I would know,” he said. “They’re learning from guys who do this.”
He added that the high school players serve as role models for the Broncos.
Many of the Vikings players were wearing neon green T-shirts with the slogan “Never Quit” in big black letters on the back. They reinforced Perpall’s message of persistence and patience, while teaching proper football techniques.
Thom Flynn, who will be a senior in the fall, has volunteered at the camp since he was in ninth grade. He is goal was to give the children good, solid instruction while keeping them safe.
Flynn said he could relate to the children because he was once a young football player learning to play the game the right way. With that in mind, he knew it was important to keep the mood light.
“That’s what this camp’s about, having fun,” he said. “If they come up to me and say, ‘I had fun today,’ I think it’s a good day.”
The Broncos league is open to children ages 5-13, and players were divided up by age group at the camp. Schiller said he appreciated the personalized instruction that Perpall and his staff gave. For the younger Broncos, it was about teaching the basics of football while for the older players, it was about refining the skills they already have.
Schiller, once a Bronco himself, said he is looking forward to seeing this training pay off in games. Practices will be held on Tuesday nights throughout August, and the opening day picnic is set for Sept. 13 with the first games the following day. All home games are played at Seaman’s Neck Park in Seaford.