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Football: A summer football trip worth remembering

Marcello Getty said it was crazy. Damien Bentho said, "He's a pretty cool guy." They were talking about meeting Peyton Manning on the first night of the Manning Passing Academy June 21-24 at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La. The two Bra...

Brainerd eighth-grader Marcello Getty takes a break from his workouts at the Peyton Manning Passing Academy to take a photo with the retired NFL quarterback in Thibodaux, La.
Brainerd eighth-grader Marcello Getty takes a break from his workouts at the Peyton Manning Passing Academy to take a photo with the retired NFL quarterback in Thibodaux, La.

Marcello Getty said it was crazy.

Damien Bentho said, "He's a pretty cool guy."

They were talking about meeting Peyton Manning on the first night of the Manning Passing Academy June 21-24 at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La.

The two Brainerd eighth-graders returned from camp Monday afternoon and were still on cloud nine talking about their experience Wednesday, June 27.

Getty participated in the quarterback clinic, while Bentho brushed up on his skills as a running back.

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Bentho said Peyton Manning was just like he appears in the many commercials he appears in, while Eli wasn't around very much.

"His older brother Cooper was very funny," Bentho added. "Peyton was walking around everywhere. He would come over to us and make some jokes and he talked to every one of us. He was a really friendly guy."

The first night the Brainerd duo went through some meetings, had an hour-long skills training and that night met the Manning brothers along with a host of Division I quarterbacks, including North Dakota State University quarterback Easton Stick.

Their mornings started at 6:30 a.m., but Bentho said it wasn't overwhelming.

"Because there were so many athletes down there, there was enough downtime," Bentho said. "We would have breakfast at 6:30, but wouldn't start practice until 8:45. Then that got done at 11 a.m. and we'd have lunch around 11:15 and then practice wouldn't start until 1:45 p.m. It really wasn't too much. They gave you a lot of time to rest."

It didn't take long for the two to realize they had a lot of improving to do.

"There are a lot of things to learn," Bentho said. "I never knew how good the other players were until now. I thought I was fast when I went down there, but nope. There were guys down there that were on a whole new level. It was crazy how good they were."

Getty was amazed at the speed and strength of players he was learning with.

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"Some kids could really shoot the ball fast and far," Getty said. "It would have a nice spiral on it, too."

The athletes were broken out into running backs and quarterbacks and in age groups, but they were exposed to the upper-echelon athletes. Bentho said he worked with a guy who was with the New Orleans Saints and the quarterback for the University of Wisconsin.

"I need to do a lot of work," Getty said. "It was fun to watch them throw. It was a bit crazy, too, to see how far they could throw it. It looked effortless."

Both Bentho and Getty are multi-sport athletes at Brainerd. Along with football, Bentho does wrestling and track and field and Getty does track and field, but both admitted they were blown away by the athleticism and work ethic of their fellow campers.

"Some guys went on extra long jogs," Bentho said. "There was one guy who did mountain climbs every day because lived up in the mountains so he would run up the mountains for fun. I was like, 'OK. you can do that.'"

Getty learned quickly dedication and hard work were going to be keys to his development. From a skill standpoint, he also picked up some key focus points.

"I learned how to get a quick release with the ball," Getty said. "I learned how much footwork matters on every play."

Manning and his instructors emphasized getting out and throwing the ball around, getting out with a group of receivers and a quarterback and running routes and working on timing. He told the athletes to do it every day.

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The two are hoping to compete in some 7-on-7 passing leagues this summer as the excitement of the camp is still fresh.

The pair is already planning on going next year and bringing more Warrior athletes with them.

"To anyone interested I would say make sure you're in decent shape," Bentho said. "Don't go down there wheezing and struggling to breathe. I'm glad I wasn't too bad out of shape down there because it was hot. When we were doing roll call all of us were already sweating. Oh my goodness, it was terrible how hot it was. The humidity was terrible, too.

"But there were a lot of great people there. I think there were 1,500 people there."

Getty said to those interested in joining them next year: "Bring your A game and be prepared to learn a lot. That and be ready for the weather."

Brainerd's Damien Bentho finds a free moment from working out at the Peyton Manning Passing Academy to snap a photo with the future hall of fame quarterback.
Brainerd's Damien Bentho finds a free moment from working out at the Peyton Manning Passing Academy to snap a photo with the future hall of fame quarterback.

Related Topics: FOOTBALLBRAINERD WARRIORS
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