Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

Physicality puts Warriors among football camp's best of Black pool

In posting a 2-8 season in 2012, the Del Norte High football team would find itself pushed around by opponents.

The Warriors have vowed to become more physical next season, dictating the game, and the team made strides toward that at the Gold Beach Football Team Camp June 15andndash;20.

Del Norte won all but one game in 7-on-7 competition and participated in the camp's featured scrimmage - live, full-pads competition - against South Medford (Ore.) High. The Panthers defeated the Warriors in the scrimmage, but the boys from Del Norte County made a fight of it, according to coaches.

"Even in 7-on-7 we were more physical (than the competition)," Del Norte head coach Ray Rook said. "Other teams didn't like that."

"We were aggressive," offensive coordinator Gene Mitchell concurred. "We had a couple people making a tackle and three more back there (to finish the play)."

The tone for the camp was set months before the Warriors set foot in Gold Beach, when Rook accepted a spot into the camp's Black pool with California high schools Benicia High and Lassen High (Susanville) and Oregon high schools North Salem, South Medford, Bend, Summit (also of Bend) and Thurston (Springfield).

All five of the Oregon schools are part of the state's largest two classifications - 5A and 6A - while Benicia was a California Interscholastic Federation Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 playoff team last season. Lassen is a Northern Section Division 2 team; Del Norte will be playing in North Coast Section Division 4 in 2013.

The Warriors, according to Rook, approached each contest as a referendum on physical play. More often than not, physicality won out.

"That will keep us in games," Rook said.

Senior Eric Turner and junior Napooi Shorty were named All-Camp players, as designated by the coaches in attendance. Both play two ways but were honored for their contributions on defense, Turner at defensive tackle and Shorty at linebacker.

Rook also praised the work of senior David Sathe, one of the "most consistent" Warriors. Another two-way player, Sathe was lauded by Rook for the coverage skills and physicality he displayed at cornerback.

Del Norte was not without areas of improvement, particularly on offense. The Warriors barely dipped into their playbook in order to familiarize players with the basics of the veer, which the team will run as its base in 2013.

"If we ran 400 plays, 320 of them were veer," Mitchell said.

Gold Beach also represented an opportunity for coaches to examine their depth in real football situations. Del Norte must replace at least five starters from the 2012 team and brings up the majority of a junior-varsity squad that excelled last season. Nonetheless, there is plenty of playing time to be earned.

Players are getting a head start on fall camp, which begins Aug. 12, in weight room workouts that have averaged 15 participants. The Warriors' first game, at West Valley High in Cottonwood, is Aug. 31.

"For June, we're great right now," Mitchell said. "For September, we're not very good."

Reach Robert Husseman at