Mendota uses drills, 7-on-7 with Stockton as learning opportunity

Trojans looking to improve as they enter Three Rivers Conference this fall

Mendota football coach Keegan Hill is glad to have a traditional offseason schedule this summer.

“This is fun,” Hill said after the Trojans played host to Stockton for a night of drills and 7-on-7 on Thursday. “We get to worry about running around and playing football, connecting with kids and coaching kids. It’s what sports need to be.”

The Trojans and Blackhawks worked on several aspects of the game Thursday.

Along with the traditional summer 7-on-7, the teams ran individual passing drills, suited up in shoulder pads and helmets to run plays and did pass protection drills.

“It was another opportunity to compete with some other kids,” Hill said. “Our kids look forward to that. We want football to be something they look forward to. It was a nice day. There were a lot of teachable moments. I think we got a lot out of it.

“The fact they got to bring some of their linemen so we could work on running the ball a little bit was nice. (We also worked on) the timing with the receiver combinations and the quarterback. Matching up those guys against other people when you’re not sure what they’re going to do adds a whole other variable to it.”

Thursday was the third time this summer the Trojans have worked against other schools as they competed in a 7-on-7 at St. Charles North and traveled to La Salle-Peru’s Howard Fellows Stadium for a mini camp on Monday.

“It brings a whole other level of competition to us,” Mendota senior quarterback Ted Landgraf said. “It’s more game like so we’ll be ready for the season more than we were last year.”

Landgraf liked what he saw from the Trojans’ passing game against Stockton.

“I think it went very well,” Landgraf said. “It was a learning opportunity for the whole team. We had linemen doing one on ones. Our passing game was much improved from last time.

“The routes were run better. The throws were better. Overall, we were seeing the field as a team better.”

The Trojans, who have workouts next week and will hold Junior Tackle Camp on July 26-27 and YMCA Flag Football Camp on July 28, are hoping the summer work pays off this fall as they leave the Big Northern Conference for the Three Rivers Conference where they will reunite with local rivals Hall and Princeton.

“We learned a lot going to the different 7-on-7s,” senior Christian Tellez said. “We got better at the passing game and defending the pass. (We improved on) being able to read defenses, run routes and catch the ball as well as defending the pass.

“I feel like we’re ready to go. We’ll go as hard as we can and get some wins this year. We’re coming.”