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Originally published: 2011-04-22 11:50:18
Last modified: 2011-04-22 16:27:59

Viking football abuzz with offseason activity

Jamie Shell / (

Although the 2011 high school football season kickoff is officially four months away, that has not stopped Avery Vikings football players from participating in off season activities to improve their abilities and chances for success in 2011 and beyond.

On a warm and clear Sunday, April 3, Viking quarterback Alex Villanueva and wide receiver teammate Hunter Shields joined 175 of the top athletes from North and South Carolina at the VTO Sports Elite 100 Camp, an invitational event held at Mallard Creek High School near Charlotte.

Both athletes excelled in all aspects of the camp, from combine tests to 7-on-7 competitions and one-on-one drills, and both were named into the elite five players at his respective position, where the duo received additional extensive tutelage from experts and coaches working the camp.

Villanueva made targeted throws and impressed coaches with his accuracy and arm strength. The junior ran the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds and was measured with a 28-inch vertical leap, in addition to a shuttle time of 4.3 seconds. Due to the shoulder injury suffered during last football season, Villanueva was not cleared to lift weights for the bench press portion of the combine test.

Shields surprised many at the camp with his strength, evidence of the hard work the junior has put into the weight room and conditioning. Shields completed the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and the shuttle in 4.16 seconds. He exhibited a 33-inch vertical leap and bench-pressed 185 pounds a whopping 19 times, blowing away the mark set by every other receiver at the event.

Both Villanueva and Shields set personal record times in the dash and shuttle combine tests at the camp.

Last Saturday, April 16, Viking athletes participated in a Shrine Bowl combine held at Watauga High School in Boone. Torrential rain prevented the event from being held outdoors, but athletes went through the paces of the combine indoors.

Villanueva has also received the invitation to compete at the ESPN Rise Nike Football Camp, held May 22 at Duke University in Durham. The event is a national invitation-only event, and is a regional qualifier for the national Elite 11 Quarterback Camp held this summer in Las Vegas, Nev.

Villanueva and wide receivers Shields, Spencer Blackburn and Ty Polsgrove will be attending the Manning Passing Academy. The camp is located at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., and is a four-day camp held July 7 through 10.

The Manning Passing Academy is hosted by the Manning family and several current and former National Football League (NFL), NCAA football players and coaches. It is designed to help four different positions, including quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end.

In addition to camps, a number of AHS football players have committed themselves during the off-season to weight training at the high school. Seeing the benefits from added strength, which helped propel the Vikings to the third round of the state playoffs a season ago, AHS head coach Darrell Brewer is pleased to see the effort of his players to further team building through weight training.

"I'm really proud of the boys. Thus far we've had a really good off-season. The kids are working hard. The days of waiting until the summer to start getting ready for football season are long gone, and it's almost a year-round process," Brewer said. "I opened the weight room after Christmas break and the kids have been in there ever since. Waiting until after the break gave the coaches and kids a little time off, but that time off is short lived."