It's been a rough few years for Redmond High School football.
Part of the problem is the team, which has not had a winning season since 2007, has struggled to attract high player turnout, said Jordan Flowers, a wide receivers coach and assistant offensive coach for the Mustangs. Last year, Flowers said, many nearby high schools drew around 130 prospective players.
At Redmond, initial turnout was 85.
Flowers and the rest of the RHS coaching staff hope a renewed focus on reaching out to younger athletes will help narrow that gap. The team will host its first-ever Redmond Mustangs Youth Football Camp this July at the high school, and Flowers said the intention is to give local youth some positive exposure to the sport at a young age.
"We believe that we can get to championship level," he said. "It starts up front."
Part of the problem, Flowers said, is that many talented high school athletes are now expected to devote themselves to one sport. But he said Redmond's football program is more flexible than a lot of other sports because all its practices and games take place during the week, and the season is only three months long.
"It's hard understanding why there's so much focus in (playing) just one sport," Flowers said. "We want two-sport, three-sport athletes."
The summer camp will be held July 10-12 and is open to youth entering third through eighth grades. Registration is $100 before July 3.
Instruction at the camp will focus heavily on the fundamentals but also include guest speakers and daily competition. Flowers said the team originally intended to start the camp last summer, but a registration glitch led organizers to cancel it at the last minute.
Even if campers don't go on to try out for football in high school, Flowers said he hopes the camp will be a starting point for getting the Redmond community excited about football. Flowers, who grew up in Redmond and graduated from Eastlake High School in 2002, said he remembers a time not too long ago when the town rallied around the football teams at both Eastlake and RHS.
"Redmond was once that, and we think it can be that again," he said.