PORTLAND, Texas — Todd Dodge is a Texas high school football coaching legend. In his 23-year coaching career, Dodge won seven state championships; four with Southlake Carroll, three with Austin Westlake.
For 30 years, Dodge has hosted the Todd Dodge Football Camp; hosting quarterbacks and wide receivers from across the state (and sometimes from outside the state and country) for the camp. Dodge and his crew have held the camp in the Coastal Bend for five years.
“This camp has just continued to grow,” Dodge said. “The interest in it, these kids are hungry in the Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend area. Really, it’s my favorite one of the three we do.”
The camp is held at Ray Akins Wildcat Stadium in Portland. 125 athletes from across South Texas were in attendance, ranging from fifth to 12th grade, including G-P senior quarterback Brandon Redden.
“It’s just reps, making sure we get our craft right, all that kind of stuff, just working on the little things, perfecting it, and all the rest comes to you,” Redden said.
Redden has attended the camp all five years its been offered in the Coastal Bend. Last year, he started at quarterback for the Wildcats for the first time, leading the team to a playoff run that ended to a third round loss to Flour Bluff. Redden said the camp has helped him improve, and he saw that on the field last season.
“Mostly, the main thing is my feet. If I get my feet going, and I get my feet right, then my whole throwing motion is just smooth from there,” he said.
Not only was Redden representing the Wildcats present at the camp, perhaps a future G-P quarterback was also in attendance.
“It means a lot that (coach Dodge) takes his time to come down here, and give us the love that he spreads to Westlake,” said Woodren Pettis, who is going to be an eighth grader at Gregory-Portland middle school in the fall. “It means a lot.”
Pettis has been attending the camp since he was in fourth grade.
“At first I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I thought I wanted to be a receiver,” Pettis said. “Coach Dodge taught me a lot, he helped me understand what it means to truly be a quarterback.”
Pettis said he’s learned a lot from the camp, and it’s helped him realized what he needs to work on.
“I typically tend to rush my fundamentals, so I just have to learn to slow things down, relax, and enjoy the game,” he said.
Dodge shares his expertise with the Coastal Bend players, making them better in the process.
“He just wants us to get better, he wants us to thrive, and he wants us to build championships,” Redden said.
In turn, Dodge forms a bond with the coaches and players in the area, and the Coastal Bend leaves its mark on him.
“It’s a lot of fun to see them grow, to follow the team,” Dodge said. “I really enjoyed following Gregory-Portland in their playoff run last year.”
Of the 125 kids in attendance this year, Dodge estimates around half of them have attended the camp all four years it’s been hosted in Portland.
“These kids, these coaches, and these parents keep answering the bell and supporting these camps,” he said. “We’ll absolutely continue to be down here as long as they’ll have us here at Gregory-Portland.”