Sand Devils complete summer football camp

Sand Devils sweat through drills at the football summer camp from July 11 to 15.

Coach Billie is happy. 

“It’s day two of camp, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been at football camp,” he said.

There are several reasons why Sand Devils Head Football Coach Leland “Bubba” Billie is happy and feeling optimistic. 

One: Coach Billie eats, drinks and breathes football. He dreams in turf, pigskin, and Xs and Os. And at last, it’s football season.

Two: He has a large group of dedicated boys, and a few girls, attending summer football camp this year.

“We just didn’t have a good turnout at camp last year,” said Billie. “Not even enough to put together a proper offensive squad. But this year I have enough for three full offensive units, and I’m working all of them.”

Three: This is Coach Billie’s fourth year as coach of the Sand Devils football team. This year’s seniors were freshmen during Coach Billie’s first year as coach.

“They know my style and the way I do things, and they show that to the new kids, and that makes my job a lot easier,” said Coach Billie. 

The fourth reason Coach Billie is happy is that a number of this year’s seniors were starters last year: Collin Joe, Connor Shirley, Austin Wilson, Jimmy Alvarez and Emmanuel Manygoats. Coach Billie has already named Collin Joe as his starting quarterback and Jimmy Alavarez as his starting running back.

Some of this year’s new Sand Devils are juniors and seniors who haven’t played football before, but last year they had some positive experiences in other areas of school that gave them the confidence to try some new things.

Coach Billie is happy with the effort he’s getting from his players at camp this year.

“We’re starting with the basics, like we always do the first week,” he said.

“We’re focusing on the fundamentals, fitness and team bonding. Getting the players back in a football mindset, back to thinking and acting as a team. But, I’m also seeing a great deal of talent in about every position. In a lot of ways, we’re ahead of where we usually are this time of year.”

The Sand Devils move into newly created 3A Northeast Region this year that will include Winslow, Blue Ridge, Show Low, Round Valley, Ganado, Monument Valley and Window Rock. 

“It’s going to be a lot tougher than the regular 3A north,” said Coach Billie. “We’re going to have to play very well to have a good season.”

Sand Devils football camp went from Monday to Friday last week, and the team was together the entire time. The players and the coaches slept in the football field house. Their meals were prepared – camp style – by Jenn Hall and eaten together as a team. Throughout the day, the coaches put the players through exercises to build team unity, encourage competitiveness, and build physical fitness and mental toughness.

During the week-long camp, Coach Billie was joined by all his assistant coaches, as well as football coaches from the middle school and peewee league.

“The ultimate goal for Page football is to have all the football coaches and programs, from the peewee league to high school, on the same page and running the same programs,” said Billie.

“By the time the players come to me at the high school, we’re ahead of the game.”

The Sand Devils first regular season game is Aug. 26 against Red Mesa. It’s a home game. They play a scrimmage game against Tuba City on Aug. 19.

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