Joe Clayton is entering his seventh season as the head football coach at Pahrump Valley High School, and in each of those seven seasons the Trojans spent a week of their summer at a football camp hosted by Southern Utah University in Cedar City.
“Geographically, it’s the best camp for us to go to for the cost, distance, things like that,” Clayton said. “We realized what a benefit it was for us for the season, and we truly believe that without it we don’t start the season as strong. It’s two scrimmages a day with high-caliber talent. We play big Salt Lake City schools. Most of the schools we play are big 4A and 5A schools.”
The Trojans rarely play schools that size during the season, so facing them in controlled scrimmages provides invaluable experience. It also makes for long days.
“It’s a challenging week for them because it’s all day,” Clayton said. “By the time they go to bed, they’re ready to go to bed. We get up at 6 o’clock in the morning. They go eat breakfast, then we get a little bit of time to digest. Then there’s practice time before we scrimmage. We scrimmage, have a little bit of time, get ready for lunch, have a little bit of time, practice, scrimmage again. It’s go, go, go, from the time they get up to the time they go to bed.”
Preparing for that week of hard work means a different routine at home.
“Our big push here in terms of camp is really just the conditioning,” Clayton said. “We don’t spend a lot of time conditioning in the summer. We’re more worried about bulking the kids up, getting that muscle mass on them. So we don’t run, and our focus really isn’t conditioning — except for to be able to perform at camp, they have to be in shape.”
Clayton said the scrimmages run a solid 35 to 40 minutes, and today’s technology allows the coaches to study what went on in great depth.
“What we like about it is everybody’s hooked up to our film system, which is Hudl,” said Clayton, who guided the Trojans to a 7-4 season and the Sunset League championship a year ago. “So SUU actually films all of the high school scrimmages, and they send them to our Hudl account. So right when we’re done, our staff will get an hour where we can watch our scrimmage that they send to us.”
The slightly cooler but more humid weather of Cedar City — not to mention grass fields — means scrimmaging there is not exactly like playing at home. But after a few weeks of summer practice, the chance to bang heads with other players, even in a scrimmage, is a welcome change.
Also welcome is Pahrump Valley’s increased numbers. Last season’s undefeated league record and home playoff victory were accomplished with a very thin roster, even by Class 3A standards. But Clayton said there are a few more players on the field this summer, although it’s anybody’s guess how many will be there when the season opens.
“We haven’t been less than 70 boys every day all summer,” he said. “We started with close to 90.”
There’s little doubt a big reason for that was last year’s success. The Trojans posted just their second winning record since 1995 and won their first league championship since 2005, and those feats made the football team a more desirable place to be.
“I believe so,” Clayton agreed. “We talk about that all the time, too. Since we’ve been together, we remember back to when that was one of the things we talked about on a regular basis when we were losing. It would be nice to win a few games so we could get more bodies. Winning not only breeds more success, but it increases your numbers. I’m pretty sure we got a few bodies from that.”
The Trojans will get their first chance to show off that potentially deeper roster in less than a month. A year ago, Pahrump Valley opened the season with a long trip to Winnemucca to face Lowry, and this year the Buckaroos, who won that game 41-40, are making the return trip to face the Trojans at 7 p.m. Aug. 23.
Spaghetti Dinner & Bake Sale
When: 6 p.m. Aug. 3
Where: Pahrump Valley H.S. cafeteria
Tickets: $5, available from any football player.
All proceeds benefit the Pahrump Valley High School football program.