Nearly three dozen soon-to-be high school students had a chance to learn from some of Tucson’s best football players while participating in Canyon Del Oro High School’s annual Dorado Camp of Champions.

Current college football players Jared Tevis and Blake Martinez, both former Dorados, were just a couple of those to return to their old stomping grounds last Thursday, where they helped teach football fundamentals to the 32 participants of the free program.

The camp is in its second year of operation after a 10-year halt left young players with fewer training options.

CDO head football coach Dustin Peace was instrumental in reviving the program.

“It’s about getting kids excited about playing football,” he said. “It’s a good camp. We’ve got a good group of kids and they’re out here having fun and working hard.”

The three-day camp, which ran from June 11-13, develops basic football skills such as blocking, tackling, catching, and passing, and wraps up with a friendly scrimmage.

Tevis, who plays starting safety for the University of Arizona, showed off his passing skills as quarterback for the final day’s scrimmage.

He said it was a pleasure to return to his former high school to keep the community’s youth interested in football.

“There are so many things this sport teaches you – it applies toward your whole life,” said Tevis. “It teaches work ethic, discipline, time management – all that.”

Like Tevis, Blake Martinez, linebacker at Stanford University, was in attendance for the second straight year. He says the camp is effective in keeping kids engaged in healthy activities.

“This gets them to get out of their house, come outside, and get some exercise in,” said Martinez. “Out here, I can change a kid’s perception. One of these kids could end up doing the same thing I did – going to college and playing football.”

Former CDO star running back Isaac Chacon, who graduated this May, was also quick to accept Peace’s invitation to help out. He will play for Pima Community College in the coming semester before transferring to Southern Utah, where he will play running back. 

Chacon says the camp holds true to CDO rituals that extend beyond winning or losing.

“This is part of the CDO thing – we like to help the community out,” he said. “It’s nice to see these kids grow. We teach them not just the sport, but how to act character-wise.”

Chacon says he plans to continue participating in the camp each summer. It’s something he feels he owes to the community that was so helpful during his own high school career.

“I know some these kids from their families, because they always came out and supported us when I was playing,” he said. 

Eighth grader Michael Bavyak was one of those to reap the benefits of the camp. The 13-year-old hopes to play linebacker when he begins high school. 

“I’m just trying to get better at football,” he said. “It’s all been a lot of fun.”

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