7-on-7: More than a passing fancy
It's June. It's hot. The field is smaller. The roster is shorter and there are no pads and no helmets. But it is football, and Saturday the "boys of summer" will be playing football, not baseball.
Twenty area football teams, including one from each DeSoto and Mill Valley high schools, will go head-to-head in the annual seven-on-seven football tournament, which kicks off at 8 a .m. Saturday at the Eudora High practice field.
"I think it's very beneficial to prepare us for the upcoming season," said junior receiver and quarterback Justin Haub. "It's going to be good even though we have a young team. We just need a little more practice."
Brad Scott, DeSoto's new head football coach, said the exclusively-passing games would provide the practice the team needed and help prepare a better offensive attack for the fall.
"We're really concentrating on getting our passing game installed over the summer," Scott said. "That's something we really try to emphasize."
Scott said the DeSoto High team would focus more on passing in the fall and that this was a good chance to get more snaps working with the plays and patterns work that Haub said was much-needed.
"We're mainly working with the younger guys, and the older guys too, but working with their skills and getting them to learn the plays," Haub said. "It'll help to know them better in the fall."
Although not as hard-hitting as regular season games, the pad-free touch-football tournament still simulates a modified, real-game atmosphere for two, 20-minute, running-clock halves.
The quarterbacks work on a 45-yard field with two running backs, three receivers and an ineligible center against seven defenders who play mainly man-to-man, with two floating safeties.
To create a more fast-paced game, the quarterbacks have to pass and they have only four seconds to release the football. Only the clock, not the charging defensive line, can sack them.
But the scoring remains the same. Teams are rewarded the traditional six points for a touchdown and because there are no kickers, they are forced to attempt a two-point conversion after each score.
Throughout June, DeSoto fielded a team of about 15 high school players each Saturday morning and acquired a record of 2-7 going into the tournament, Scott said. Regardless of its record, Scott said the team had benefited from the seven-on-seven tournament.
"We're really young and we're learning a lot," Scott said. "It's a good way to prep for the fall."