By GARY BROWN
PORT CHARLOTTE — The Port Charlotte Bandits Pop Warner organization is holding speed camps twice a week until July 18. The camps are from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the Franz Ross Park, where the Bandits play their home games.
According to Bandits president Shea Davis, the Bandits have 250 signups so far, including players and cheerleaders. There are five divisions; 14-under, 12-under, 10-under
8-under and tiny mites. There aren’t any weight limits for the first time and the age divisions are used instead.
“We only have a few openings left for the season, and they are at tiny mites and 14-under,” said Davis. “Kids can sign up every Tuesday and Thursday at the park.”
Last season the Bandits junior varsity team captured the Super Bowl national championship, defeating the Almadan Mustangs from California in the finals. Those players have gone on to high school. This year’s 14-under team’s players have made the regionals the past three seasons (although at different divisions as they have gotten older). Coached by veteran coach Jim Krejci, they went to the nationals in 2016 and 2017.
“We have about 25 players so far,” Krejci said during Tuesday’s speed camp. “We should be pretty good and we have some new blood coming in.”
Players in the other divisions also worked out Tuesday evening, doing calisthenics and other activities.
Krejci has been coaching Pop Warner football for 32 years so he’s had a lot of experience with winning.
The Bandits have been consistent contenders in the Peace River Conference (PRC) for many seasons. Fall practice begins Aug. 1. There will then be a jamboree at Venice Aug. 17, followed by the opening of the PRC regular season.
They will open the eight-game regular season Aug.24 against the visiting Venice Vikings in Division 3. The following Saturday the Bandits will be on the road against host Immokalee. The conference playoffs will be played following the regular-season schedule.