"I need an offense!"
On cue, hundreds of teenage football players lifted their hands and shouted, offering themselves up to take center stage as college coaches and parents looked on.
Some of the area players who earned position MVPs
Defensive backs » Gabe Sewell, Desert Hills; Lorenzo Manu, East
Linebackers » Osa Masina, Brighton; Jeremiah Ieremia, Hurricane
Defensive line » Boogie Sewell, Desert Hills; Dylan Bennett, Herriman
Quarterbacks » Robbie Hutchins, Brighton
Runningbacks » Zach Katoa, American Fork; Houston Heimuli, Bountiful
Offensive line » James Empey, American Fork; Tevita Tautelioli, Hunter
Tight ends » Nate Heaps, American Fork
This is All Poly Camp, once a regional curiousity that has grown into one of the largest non-institutional summer football camps in the country. Led by Alema T’eo, this year’s camp saw nearly 500 campers participate, donning pads and helmets for one of the rare summer camps that involves actual contact.
With music playing over loudspeakers and a crowd hanging on for the three-day affair, All Poly Camp has a community feel that’s unique to the spectators and the players themselves.
"There’s definitely a different energy, a different vibe to this camp," Brighton linebacker Osa Masina said. "I think it is that Polynesian culture, that togetherness."
It’s not as if the camp doesn’t have conventional strengths: It’s a big draw to coaches - Te’o reported that 110 college coaches representing schools from Stanford to Colorado showed up - and therefore a natural place for an unrecruited talent to get noticed. College assistants often volunteer their time to work with players, rather than just sit back and evaluate. And it also has become a venue for some of the top talent in the West to put themselves out there and see how they match up.
But the culture is one that draws in more than just strictly business football personalties. The sidelines offer an atmosphere like tailgate, with food and shade to go with football. For some long-parted friends and family, All-Poly Camp becomes a reunion.
There’s a lot going on, and that’s the idea, Te’o said.
"Yes, it’s All Poly, but it’s not just for Polynesians," he said. "We want you if you’re red, brown, purple, green, whatever. It’s an opportunity for everyone to get together."
After a non-padded Thursday start followed by a two-session Friday, Saturday wrapped up with scrimmages and awards. About 30 of the attendees received trophies for standing out in their position groups, including locals Masina, three American Fork prospects James Empey, Nate Heaps and Zach Katoa, and roughly a dozen other Utah natives.
But everyone has a place here, Te’o said. That’s what it’s about.
"Everyone’s trying to get better, and everyone at this camp accomplished that," he said.
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