Hentges optimistic as he returns for second stint with Crusaders

Chris Hentges is back for his second stint leading the Helias football program. (Rod Smith/KRCG13)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. --- Some reasons (excuses) for missing your team's summer football camp are better than others.

Bad reasons:

^ Going to the Lake to play Skee-Ball.

^ Taking a nap.

Good reason:

^ Going to Belize.

Even that could be somewhat iffy, but not this time --- it was a trip organized by Heias biology teacher Steve Wilson and it was planned a long, long time ago.

"It was bad missing your top rusher (senior Blake Veltrop, 980 yards last year)," said Helias head coach Chris Hentges. "We're expecting big things from him --- he's got great breakaway speed and we're definitely going to use him in this offense.

"But lot of juniors and seniors make those trips and they plan it a year in advance, they fund-raise for it. It's something they couldn't change, plus, I was forced to move the camp dates because of other conflicts.

Veltrop and four other seniors missed two days of the four-day camp.

"It is what it is," Hentges said. "But those five kids who went to Belize are such smart kids, we'll get them caught back up with no problem."

Really, this wouldn't be any problem at all except for this --- Hentges and the Crusaders are installing new systems on both offense and defense.

"Putting in the new offense and new defense --- and it was the first time we got everybody together doing it --- and sitting in the coaches office after the week was over, I reminded them of where we were 12 years ago (when Hentges started his first stint as head coach with the Crusaders).

"Overall, we're a lot farther along with these guys than we were then. There were some aspects where we could be better, but we got a lot accomplished in those four days.

"But there's still a long, long way to go."

Hentges is back after serving as an assistant coach for many years at his alma mater, then as head coach from 2006-2010. By choice, he was an assistant on Phil Pitts' staff for four years, before leaving the sidelines the last three years to follow the career of his son, Hale, at Alabama.

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