LEROY — July will be a busy month for high school football teams including Pine River.

Practices officially start on Aug. 8 with the season kickoff on Aug. 28.

The Bucks have a full July planned to get ready for the practice season. On Tuesday, July 5, at the practice field they conducted their annual strongman contest.

“It was the second year, we did a strongman competition and at the same time we’re having a barbecue and doing a bean bag toss competition,” said Pine River coach Chad Phillips. “It’s something hard and challenging and something kind of fun for the guys to socialize.”

It was a mixture of varsity and JV players. They did various events in the strongman including a car push, truck push and bench press.

On the bench press, “they had to bench 5,000 pounds,” Phillips said. “Someone would do 50 like 100 times...they’re in squads, so the squads competed against each other. Some squads had two guys show up, some had five guys show up. The one that won had three. We did a tire flip like a tractor tire flip. Then we did a smaller tire like the car tire toss.

“We finished with what we called farmer’s walk, carrying a heavy object with a couple of guys doing it.”

The Bucks started lifting shortly after school ended in early June.

“We got five lifting sessions in prior to our dead week,” Phillips said. “This is our first day after our dead week.”

The 7-on-7 passing camps for the Bucks start this week at Cadillac. On July 30, Pine River hosts a 7-on-7 passing tourney. Pine River also has a football camp July 25-27. Sessions will be 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. daily for the older players. The younger players will be there for a shorter period of time.

Phillips has been happy with the turnouts.

“We usually get about 40 percent of the kids,” he said. “Most of the basketball is done. They’re pretty heavy in June. Baseball, they play one night a week during the summer. We have a lot of wrestlers too. They have a camp in Central. Those are the three sports that have a significant schedule to work around.”

Zane Kanouse is a senior who last year played offensive guard and linebacker for the football team. This year, he’ll be a center and linebacker.

On switching to center, “I feel pretty comfortable,” he said. “My sophomore year, I played center for the JVs. I think I’ll be hitting a little less, but we’ll probably do a lot more shot gun plays this year.”

Summer work, including the strongman activity, is very helpful as far as Kanouse is concerned.

“This is a good team bonding experience,” he said. “We have all the guys playing games, having a cookout, talking and having fun. It makes for a stronger team. We have a least two nights a week and most of the time three to four times a week.”

Kanouse also plays outfield for the Pine River summer baseball team and was on the basketball team.

“We had a Hope College basketball camp for five days,” he said. “We’re pretty much done with basketball and we have five summer league baseball games left. We’ll be hitting football real hard as far as August starts.”

Add to all this is the factor Kanouse had a summer job hauling firewood.

“But I love it,” he said. “If you take a summer off, you pretty much take a season off. I’ve been trying to make it to everything.”