Parkites venture to the bayou for Manning football camp |

Parkites venture to the bayou for Manning football camp

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

For four days beginning July 7, four Park City-based football players found themselves smack-dab in the middle of the Louisiana bayou working with Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning.

On the campus of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., David Payne and JC Pollard, both soon-to-be eighth graders and both quarterbacks, were taking notes on how to play the position at the 2011 Manning Passing Academy, a camp that specializes in coaching quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. They were joined by running back Konnor Anderson, who will be a sophomore at Park City High School next year, and Matthew Payne, a wide receiver who will be a junior this fall at PCHS.

Matthew and David are sons of Park City High School athletic director Doug Payne and his wife Andrea, both natives of Louisiana. Doug Payne took the trek back to the bayou with his sons and other Park City players to take in the experience.

Doug Payne said the camp was founded by Manning patriarch Archie Manning and is run by Cooper Manning, the oldest of the Manning brothers. He said younger brothers Peyton and Eli are associate directors.

"They all make it a point to go around to every group that is practicing and shake their hands," Payne said.

He estimated roughly 1,200 kids partook in the prestigious camp, which featured a 1-to-10 coach-to-player ratio.

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Payne said he stumbled across the camp a few years back and decided to investigate it more this year. He said all four Park City players were chomping at the bit to work with some of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.

Through an e-mail with The Park Record, Matthew Payne said the coaches at the camp made it the most enjoyable. His younger brother, David, agreed.

"My favorite part was working with the pros," David Payne said. "I will remember the skills they taught (me); that will make me a much better player. I was impressed with how well the camp was run."

Payne said, to his surprise, he received a phone call from a family member in Louisiana saying his son David and JC Pollard had appeared in a photo with Eli Manning accompanying a piece written by The Baton Rouge Advocate.

"They have a ton of fields at the camp and they just happened to be in the picture with Eli," he said. "We went and bought a couple copies."

Park City High School head football coach Kai Smalley said the experience that players garner from going to camps of high stature is immeasurable.

"Any time you get to go to a camp where there’s a name behind it like Manning, you’re probably going to get some good results," he said. "It’s great to be able to see them go down there and do that."

Smalley said camps such as the Manning Passing Academy help kids learn the fundamentals of the game and don’t necessarily tailor instruction toward a specific type of offensive set.

"It’s exciting for them to come back, make that long trip and hear them talk about what they did," he said. "It sounds like they went down and represented us pretty dang good."

Smalley said having youngsters go to camps like this will only help the program in the future.

"I was really excited to hear about going-to-be-eighth-graders going. That means people coming up through the younger system are taking it seriously," he said.

With the 2011 season-opener less than a month away (Aug. 19 vs. Spanish Fork), Smalley said he’s been reminding his troops of what is around the corner.

"Last Friday night, we were down at a 7-on-7 tournament in Stansbury and I told the kids we’re four weeks away from our first game. That’s the reality of it," he said. "We’ve had 50-plus guys at workouts. It’s a good show. It’s tough here, because kids are pulled in lots of different directions, but this proves they are willing to be here.

"Everybody is just getting excited to get started. I think our players are starting to realize that it’s imminent."