GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Hundreds of high school football players have been lacing up and getting into gear for Colorado Mesa's annual football camp.
On Wednesday, eight teams from Colorado and surrounding states hit the field for day three of off-season training. Three of those teams were from right here on the Western Slope.
"Last year I saw an improvement, and this year I'm seeing the same thing," said senior Matt Story of Fruita Monument. "This is a big part of our improvement. This gives us a chance to do 7-on-7, get to see other teams, talents, speeds, and helps us blend really well, get our chemistry good."
The CMU football camp provides weekly sessions for teams to focus in, condition, and eye the competition.
"It's great to have elite talent from multiple states, come to a place like Grand Junction, and see how we can match up and see if we can get a little bit better ourselves," said seven-year Rifle head coach Damon Wells.
But it's not all about the talent on the other side.
"We challenge them to develop individually, but also to grow together as a team because that's who they're going to be playing with this fall," said CMU head coach and camp instructor Russ Martin.
"We say frequently that every team we have has a one-year life span," said Wells, "and in our minds, this is where next year's team is born."
Step by step, these athletes are finding their rhythm, but they know it'll take more than four days of dedication.
"The drills they're doing here aren't going to make them great players by themselves, but they're a great start to help them get to where they need to be if they will do that on a consistent basis for this coming fall," said Martin.
Then when the new school year hits, their goals can become a reality.
"We're looking to contend in our conference this year and get to a state playoff berth," said Story.