PENDLETON — Football season still is few weeks away, but several Pendleton Buckaroos already are hitting the field.
Tanner Sweek and Walker Camp, both incoming seniors, attended Eastern Oregon University’s football camp, which ran from June 15-18, and received top honors at the camp’s end. Sweek was named the camp’s outstanding quarterback, while Camp was recognized as the outstanding lineman.
Blake Swanson, Cooper Roberts and Travis McGee also represented Pendleton at the camp, which hosted more than 450 football players from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada.
“That’s not what I was there for,” Sweek, 17, said of the recognition. “All five of us got to improve. That’s what we were there for. It was a great experience.”
Over the course of the weekend, players received individual instruction on offensive and defensive strategies, all under the guidance of Mountaineers football coach Tim Camp. Each evening, teams would challenge each other in 7-on-7 scrimmages, which were all played without linemen.
Pendleton’s varsity football team already had attended Western Oregon University’s camp earlier in the summer, but the five Bucks decided they wanted the extra work in order to gear up for their upcoming season.
The Bucks lost 17 seniors off their roster after this year’s graduation. Sweek was a quarterback on the junior varsity team, but got some reps in on the varsity field as the season progressed. Camp was a varsity receiver.
“We’ve got some young guys that will have to step up,” Sweek said. “I have high expectations. That’s why we attended (the EOU camp). It’s an early start, rather than starting at our first practice. It makes things a little easier.”
At 6 feet, 5 inches and 190 pounds, Sweek still isn’t done tuning up. This weekend, he’ll attend the National Football Academy in Victoria, British Columbia. The three-day camp runs Friday through Sunday. Sweek, along with other high school athletes, will receive coaching from college instructors and players.
“It’s a long ways up there,” Sweek said, “but it’s a huge opportunity.”
Over the course of the weekend, players will spend time in the classroom analyzing tape before hitting the field to work on their fundamentals and technique.
“Last year was the end of my growth spurt,” Sweek said. “I’m working on putting my mind and body together. I’ve feel like I’ve improved quite a bit.”
The Bucks will play in a jamboree on Aug. 30 in Redmond. They begin the regular season on Sept. 6 with a nonleague game at La Grande.