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NFL Camp Comes to Massapequa

High school football players take part in player development clinic.

There was no helmet clanking or blood pouring out in the trenches. With 90-plus degree weather still lingering from the day, hundreds of Long Island high school football players gathered for instruction, not a beating, at the Town of Oyster Bay's Field of Dreams in Massapequa.

Part of the NFL's High School Player Development camp, players are offered a free one-week seminar that began Monday evening and runs until Friday. The clinic is routine, breaking down offensive and defensive drills based on specific positions. Each night's festivities convene in 7-on-7 live games. Athletes are given jerseys and student planners.

This is the second year of the NFL's involvement in the program, which the league said had more than 15,000 athletes in 29 states participate in during 2009.

Joe Vito, who serves as a director for Long Island's program, as well as the head football coach at Roosevelt High School, said this year's turnout was already better than last.

"We want to promote football and what's better than a free camp?" he said.

Flanked by other coaches from the Island, Vito and his staff, which includes Amityville head coach Chris Taylor and Valley Stream Central head coach Frank Chimienti, stressed fundamentals.

"The first thing I learned as a coach is never assume that a kid has had some experience playing football," said Jerone Pettus, a Roosevelt alum who won the Thorp Award as Nassau County's top player in 1999 and played college football at Wisconsin. "The more experience you can get at a certain position the better. It's always good to work on the fundamentals."

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