Perry youth football unofficially kicks off with summer camp

Sean Cordy - Sports
Players swarm to the ball in the end zone during the final game of the day. PHOTO BY SEAN CORDY/THE PERRY CHIEF

While the high school team started its offseason meetings on Sundays in June at Dewey Field, the future of Perry football was also preparing on the same turf.

From June 12 to July 3, Perry hosted a minicamp for local elementary and middle school players on Mondays and Wednesdays. Grades 6-8 would meet in the middle of the week while elementary students were are the start of the week. If it seems like this is all a bit early compared to past years, that’s by design.

“This is the first year we’ve run a youth camp in June,” Perry head coach Matthew Hardy said. “Traditionally we had done a middle school (camp) in late July like we would normally do our high school camp. I thought we might get some better numbers in if we did it right after school got done and with us starting youth football again. It’s kind of a way to try and drive some interest in football and hopefully get kids exposed to the sport that hadn’t been playing prior.”

That’s right. Perry is bringing back youth football to the area.

Practices start in mid-August for a September kickoff, making this early camp an appetizer for what’s to come.

Partnering with ADM, Dallas Center-Grimes, Johnston, and Norwalk, students grades 3-6 will have a new league to gain experience before middle school.

The league will be divided by grades. Each grade will have a different play style to ensure safety and increase involvement based on experience. Grades 3-5 will play 8-on-8 games but will not include tackle football until fifth grade. Fourth grade will play flag football in helmets and shoulder pads while third grade begins with just a padded helmet. Sixth grade plays 11-man tackle football in full pads.

With 30-35 participants in each camp group, Hardy said there were some “pretty good numbers” involved ahead of the season’s start.

He added that the camp was modeled with the youth league in mind and with new students being introduced, ensured that they would all get a wide range of experience to test their skills and preferences.

On an eight-minute rotation, groups in grades 3-5 switched between positions on offense and defense through the first two weeks and played 8-on-8 action at the end of camp to give a more full-speed experience.

Even though some of the age groups will not be playing tackle football this season, the camp did include instructions on how to tackle properly. Hardy spent time using an inflatable tackling dummy in the second week showing everyone how to keep their head up while wrapping up for a tackle to stay safe.

The middle school camp was run “more traditionally,” Hardy said so players could focus on their positions heading into the season.

For more information on the Perry Youth Football League, questions may be submitted to

Perry Youth Football will receive 100+ People for Perry funds as the group selected the league during the Feb. 28 meeting. 100+ members pledged $7,000 to assist with the purchase of equipment and supplies.