The Southeastern High School football team is headed to an unusual location this preseason, summer camp.
Starting Monday, the Trojans will practice at Camp Clifton in nearby Yellow Springs. Southeastern will hold its normal two-a-days practice schedule, while also performing other team-building activities, second-year coach Payton Printz said.
“It’s something I’ve never done at previous schools,” he said. “I really think it’s going to help us come together.”
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The team already has great chemistry said senior lineman Jason Rutschilling, one of 14 Trojans seniors. But a week at camp can only make the bonds with his teammates even stronger, he said.
Camp Clifton is a 4-H camp site located near Clifton Gorge and John Bryan State Park that includes a wooded camping area, hiking trails and a pool.
“It’s going to bring us closer,” said Rutschilling.
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The team has shown a new attitude this season after a year in Printz’s system, he said.
“Nobody here cares who gets the glory,” he said.
They’ll leave camp to face two new opponents in scrimmages against West Liberty-Salem on Tuesday and Miami East on Friday. The Trojans scrimmaged Bradford, Worthington Christian and Columbus Crusaders last season, Printz said.
“It’s going to be some higher competition,” senior Max Delong said. “If we can play against these guys, we can play against anyone on our schedule. It’s going to set the pace for the season.”
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Printz, who spent 15 years in the Ohio Heritage Conference at Triad, was hired in April of 2017 after Greg Bonifay was hired at Stebbins.
The Trojans went 4-6 last season, finishing 13th in the Division VII, Region 28 playoff standings. It was the most wins for Southeastern consecutive 5-5 seasons in 2011-12. Both offensive coordinator A.J. Woods and defensive coordinator Chris Kitchen return this season.
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Upon his arrival at Southeastern, Printz immediately implemented a weight lifting program that saw great attendance this offseason, he said.
“The kids have gotten much, much stronger,” he said. “I really believe we’re going to be a better football team this year and a lot of that obviously (is because of) how hard they’ve worked in the weight room in the offseason.”
The Trojans return two All-Ohio performers in receiver Charlie Bertemes and linebacker Hayden McKee. They’ll turn to freshman quarterback Wade Eriksen to lead the Trojans’ offense.
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Early in the season, Eriksen is getting the ball where it needs to be, Bertemes said.
“The entire team has rallied around him,” Printz said. “He’s proven to everyone that he deserves to be there. … Everyday he’s learning something new.”
The Trojans will face two Division IV Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division schools – Northwestern and Graham – to start the season. Southeastern is bidding for its first postseason trip since 2009.
“We don’t talk too much about playoffs, but I know that’s something these kids would love to do,” said Printz.