WARREN - The first day of the 18th annual Nick Frankos and Mims-Manoa Football Camp began Monday at the Warren G. Harding athletic complex with players split into groups of grades 4-8 and 9-12.
The younger players were coached in football skills while the older group went through a minicamp setting by the Harding coaching staff and Deryck Toles and Carl Diggs, former Harding players who went on to Penn State and Michigan, respectively.
Frankos said the goal of the camp is not only to teach and instruct in football, but also in making good decisions.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Steven Ainsley, right, is on the bag as Malik Matlock tries to go through the blocker and get to the football during a drill called “Scoop and Score” during Monday’s Nick Frankos and Mims-Manoa Football Camp at Mollenkopf Stadium. Both campers are from Warren.
"We have drug enforcement people come in and speak," he said. "We want the kids to think for just 15 seconds before they get in the car and go to that party."
New Harding coach Steve Arnold floated back and forth between the two groups, which were split between Mollenkopf Stadium and the school's practice field.
"Sort of floating back and forth," he said. "Making sure everything is going the way it should be going with the coaches and the kids. Trying to keep the kids active for three hours. Make sure they're learning and coaches are continuing to teach."
Frankos estimated 150 players on the first day and expected a slightly higher number today and Wednesday on the final two days of the camp.
He said that he expected one of the namesakes of the camp, former Cleveland Brown Tim Manoa, would be flying in from San Francisco later Monday to participate. Also, Bill Davis (linebackers) and George Warhop (offensive line) are among six Browns assistant coaches who will be appearing today at 5:30 at Leo's Ristorante in Howland.
"We stared with five coaches for 200-some kids. Now we have 20, thank God," Frankos said.
He said that getting current players is key to keeping the campers' attention.
"I could get Hanford Dixon or Bernie Kosar, no problem," Frankos said. "We had Bernie come in a couple years ago, but these kids don't know who these guys are. Their parents were like this (enthralled)."
Frankos said that it's also tough getting people to come in and work with the campers because of monetary demands.
"It started about six years ago that some people wanted to be paid," he said. "I said no way. Back in the day if I said you can eat, drink and play golf for three days, they'd set up camp."
One change Frankos hopes to implement next year is to bring in some of the local high school teams such as "Girard or Cardinal Mooney" for 7 on 7 drills as a precursor to the upcoming season. He did say there was one issue that may prevent that from happening.
"With open enrollment, some coaches don't want to send their best kids here," he said.
Frankos added that if the plan does happen that the skills camp for the younger grade group would still remain the same.
Arnold was asked how things have been progressing as he has begun working with his first Harding team.
"We've been sort of our spring ball conditioning," he said. "We'll resume this evening at 6. We've had a couple weeks off so we'll resume tonight.
"Everything's going pretty smooth. Kids are anxious, coaching staff is anxious. We can start bringing footballs out now. So we can how many kids can play. We can see who can catch a football and who can do things with a football. Then in July, we'll see who can hit and who can withstand a hit."
Coming off a 2-8 season under former coach Rick Rios (the school's worst since going 1-9 in 1985), Arnold said he has seen improvement in the attitude and culture of the program since he has taken over.
"Very optimistic. All you can do is have your kids work hard and your coaches coach them and bring in the correct attitude," he said. "You have some structure and some discipline and that allows you to coach kids. That's what we're trying to bring back to the program. We still have a ways to go but we see a lot of progress has been made."