The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


July 4, 2012

3 Carl Junction players attend football camp in Dallas

Three Carl Junction High School football players attended the camp of their lives on June 17-20.

Sophomores Chase Johnston (quarterback-linebacker), Nick Kennedy (tailback-defensive back) and Reece Tholen (wide receiver-outside linebacker-kicker) attended the NFL-sponsored Offense-Defense Dallas Football Camp.

There’s no question about the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Johnston being the “old pro” of camps. This was his fifth camp and second at Dallas after three years to Kansas City (actually held at Central Missouri of Warrensburg).

The value of the camp for the 5-10, 170-pound Tholen, who kicked for the varsity Bulldogs as a freshman, was simple.

“We had the experience of playing in Cowboys Stadium (at Arlington),” Tholen said. “That was neat ... playing a real game in Cowboys Stadium. Also, the coaches (former Cowboy Bill Bates directed the camp) were very intense.”

Said dad Jeff Tholen: “Reece, as the camp went along, liked it more and more.”

Part of that, as Reece indicated, was that he became more than just a number as the camp of contact and full gear progressed.

Added Reece: “I was helped by Chase (Johnston) at linebacker. He knows a lot about the position.”

Johnston said Danny Lowry worked with him at quarterback.

“It was a continuation of previous camps,” Johnston said of the experience in the 15-and-older division. “The overall value for me is learning from the pro and college coaches.”

Said dad Vince Johnston: “Honestly, it’s worth what we pay. He wouldn’t have gone for five years if we didn’t believe it.

“There are many benefits in addition to the coaching,” Vince Johnston said. “No. 1 could be that it’s a full-contact camp. There’s more exposure with college scouts and coaches at these (O-D) camps.”

Said Chase: “I’ll go again to Dallas next year.”

The bottom line for the three players, of course, was to improve their skills for the upcoming season to help the Bulldogs regardless of level.

A vacationing Nick Kennedy couldn’t be reached to comment for the story.

Johnston and Tholen will return to Dallas in late December for the All-American Bowl.

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