The future of Wallenpaupack Area program looks bright
The future of local high school football looks bright as nearly 50 talented, hard-working boys and girls attended the 2018 Lakeside Camp this week.
Wallenpaupack Area once again hosted the clinic, which ran from Monday through Thursday on the shores of The Big Lake.
Dr. Mark Watson, who’s entering his 13th season as Paupack’s varsity head coach, organizes the event each year.
“I love it,” he said with a big smile. “It’s an awful lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it in the end. The kids are great and so are the parents. We get a great deal of support from the school district and the community. And, I’m very grateful.”
Lakeside Football Camp is in its 17th year. The clinic is open to boys and girls kindergarten through eighth grade. Schools represented at this summer’s clinic were Paupack, Honesdale and Western Wayne.
“It just keeps getting better every year,” Dr. Watson said. “The numbers may fluctuate a little bit, but the kids are awesome.”
The focus of the camp is twofold: teaching the fundamentals of football and nurturing a love of the game.
Longtime assistant coach Jay Haupt also volunteers his time each year. He is joined by current Buckhorn players and alumni.
“I couldn’t do any of this without them,” Dr. Watson said. “I especially love seeing former players come back to help out. A lot of them who are playing in college now got their start right here at this camp.”
In addition to the regular football camp exercises, Lakeside hosted a “Punt, Pass & Kick” competition this week.
Each age group participated and trophy winners were announced at the final session on Thursday.
•Sam Kiesendahl (Green Group, 34 total yards)
•Jaret Haupt (Blue Group, 67 total yards)
•Justin Blanding (Red Group, 88 total yards)
•Sam Filip (Purple Group, 108 total yards)
Dr. Watson also presented a Coaches Choice Award for each age group.
“All of my assistants get together and vote on these,” he said. “It’s based on which kids work hard, have the best attitude and help the other kids.”
The 2018 Lakeside Camp Coaches Awards were received by:
•Sam Kiesendahl (Green Group)
•Gavin White (Blue Group)
•Ben Anderson (Red Group)
•Ben Ostroski (Purple Group).
As mentioned earlier, Dr. Watson is especially pleased that many of his former campers have gone on to enjoy success at the next levels, both athletically and academically.
Many played for him at Paupack and a few even advanced to the next level.
“We have a bunch of kids playing college football right now and several in Division I,” he said.
“I always tell my kids: Playing football is great, but it's more important to use it as a means to acquire an education. That's our biggest goal and one I'm proud to say we've helped a lot of kids achieve.”
Dr. Watson mentioned several former Buckhorns who are currently receiving scholarships to attend prestigious universities.
Included among these are Kyle Vasey, who just earned a full scholarship for his senior season at Penn State, and Rashawn Battle, who's a standout at Rutgers University.
Among the volunteer coaches on hand to assist with this year's camp was former Paupack star Kenny Grady. A sophomore at Misericordia, Grady is listed as a 6-1, 260-pound defensive end in the school's Media Guide.
“Kenny wasn't the easiest kid to deal with sometimes,” Dr. Watson said with a smile. “But, he worked hard and got his act together in college. Last semester, Kenny earned a 3.96 GPA.
“This is exactly what I'm talking about. Kenny is going to be a success in life partially due to the lessons he learned on the football field.”
Wallenpaupack Area has enjoyed solid success since Dr. Watson took over the program 13 years ago.
The Buckhorns are fresh off a season in which they qualified for the District 2 playoffs. Additionally, the coaching staff is mentoring the County team in this year's Dream Game.
“I like the direction we're going in,” he said. “It seems like pretty much every year we take things a new level.
“The future is definitely looking bright.”