SPRINGFIELD >> Summer camp took on a different meaning for Springfield quarterback Jake Rama, lineman Tyler Klambara and running back Bryan Minnott, among other Cougars.
They didn’t spend their time hiking, kayaking or taking part in normal summer camp activities. They spent a good portion of their summer on college campuses honing their football skills.
When he wasn’t working out with Vernard “Coach Abe” Abrams, the owner and director of ACE QB & WR, Rama participated in camps at Temple, East Stroudsburg, Kutztown and West Chester.
“It prepared me a lot,” Rama said. “The quarterback training helped me get a lot better. I was in the weight room, too. I gained a lot of weight. I gained 30 pounds. Last year I was like 145 and I’m 173 now. I’ve definitely gotten stronger and better.”
The 6-4, 310-pound Klambara participated in 11 college showcase camps.
“I went to Villanova, Temple, Kutztown, East Stroudsburg, Army, Towson, Rutgers, Bucknell, Lehigh, Delaware and a few others,” said Klambara, who earned All-Delco honors in track last spring as one of the top shot putters. in the state. “I can’t remember all of them. But I had a pretty good camp series.
“It was a lot of technical work from these college coaches. They taught me about pass-setting, moving my feet well. They also conditioned me very well. I was able to go through the heat week and these two-a-day practices without any problems. They’ve definitely improved my technique. I’m better able to pass set well, move my feet, drive people downfield better than I did last year.”
Minnott, a senior running back, took part in camps at Ursinus, Gettysburg, Albright and Shippensburg.
“It gave me a chance to get better and expose myself to the college coaches so I can play at the next level,” Minnott said.
Springfield coach Chris Britton believes that the work many of his players put in over the summer will pay dividends as the Cougars try to improve on last year’s 5-7 record (4-5 Central League) that included a loss to Unionville in the first round of the District 1 Class 5A playoffs.
“They see that there’s always someone bigger, someone better,” Britton said. “It’s a humbling experience. You start to learn that you have to keep working every day. I’m never going to be done working. I always have to improve and I think that’s what they’ve taken to heart. Each day our goal is to get better. We’re trying to get better than we were the day before and go from there.”
Rama returns for his third year as the starting quarterback and looks to improve on a junior season in which he threw for 1,785 yards and 16 touchdowns, fourth-best in the county in both categories. He completed 66 percent of his passes (153-for-231).
“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better from my junior year to my senior year,” Rama said. “I don’t think I’ve practiced better than I have in the last two weeks. Having a couple of years under my belt helped me.”
“It’s invaluable to come in with a guy who’s been through this before,” Britton said of Rama. “He can get everybody right. He can calm people down when things go wrong. It’s nice to have a leader that’s also talented.”
Rama is one of six starters back on offense. The others are Minnott and fellow running back Ty Gougler, wide receivers Aidan Kreydt and Mike O’Donnell and Klambara at tackle. Minnott rushed for 276 yards and two touchdowns. Gougler led the team in rushing with 307 yards. Kreydt caught 23 passes for 283 yards and four scores. O’Donnell had 26 catches for 313 yards and one TD.
Returning on defense are tackle Gus Bryant and linebackers Ethan Marshall, Ryan Johnston and Jack Lemon.
It’s a team with experience, good size, athletic ability and high expectations.
“I think we’re really confident in our skills,” Minnott said. “We have a lot of energy on both sides of the ball. We’re excited. We think we can make a lot of noise this year. We’re hoping to win a district championship.”