The first steps in the new look Riverside football program were taken this summer.
New football coach Tom Griggs held a pair of camps in June to allow players to get a chance to become somewhat familiar with the program.
Griggs, who came to Riverside after a one-year stint as head coach at Rochester (Wash.) High School, held a mini-camp at the end of the school year. A more intense one-week camp was held last week.
The new Ram head man, who played two seasons at Washington State University before a back injury ended his playing days, said he used the mini-camp to get his players a taste of what the new terminology and offense will look like this fall. He used last week’s camp to show off the new defense after his players finally were able to don pads.
“We have a bunch of eager guys soaking it up,” said Griggs last week.
About three dozen players showed up for last week’s camp.
Griggs, who was hired just before the end of the school year, acknowledged that the late start hampered some of his scheduling this summer. The late June camp (Deer Park held its camp in the final two weeks of the school year) conflicted at times with American Legion baseball, other sports camps and family vacations.
“We tried to get in as much as possible,” he said.
Despite those challenges, Griggs has been pleased with what he has been able to accomplish in a short time frame.
“We’re getting better at football,” he said.
Griggs and a bunch of new players (the Rams graduated 20 players from last season) are not the only new faces in the program. The Rams coaching staff went through an almost complete overhaul. The only holdover from interim head coach Mark Vanetter’s staff last season is Randy Miller.
Griggs broke up the monotony of learning the new Xs and Os last week with plenty of team building exercises, including strength and skill competitions. One lunch session featured the film, “Out of the Blue,” a recap of Boise State’s 2007 undefeated season.
While Griggs closed his first full team camp on Friday, he noted that his football coaching duties will continue.
Griggs will hold a three-day skills camp in mid-July followed by a three-day lineman camp a week later. He also will conduct 7-on-7 work this summer.
In addition, he will be a constant presence in the weight room for any Riverside athlete who wants to use the facility this summer.
“I’ll be there everyday,” he said.
The Rams will get together as a football team on Aug. 15, the first day high school teams across the state can hold organized practices. The team will take part in the annual jamboree at Deer Park in late August before opening its season on Aug. 31 at Timberlake.