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Football players putting in work during 7-on-7

POSTED: July 1, 2011 7:43 p.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

North Hall's Avery Easton flips a heavy tire during linemen drills at Thursday afternoon's Fellowship of Christian Athletes 7-on-7 football tournament at Johnson High.

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Though teams typically play just one preseason scrimmage before the football season, their summers are packed with boatloads of 7-on-7 scrimmages.

Many area schools participate in 7-on-7 tournaments that feature up to 20 teams, sometimes more.

"They're like wrestling tournaments," Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said. "It feel like you're there all day because you play anywhere from seven to eight games. You get a lot of work in and they're pretty competitive too.
"Most kids don't have trouble sleeping once they leave one of those."

The 7-on-7 drills are far from the game of football. Teams don't go over scouting reports. No pads are worn. No tackles are made.

No running plays are used.

All plays are passes and, typically, a team will get need to advance the ball 20 yards in three downs for a first down, or concede possession.

Possessions begin on the opposition's 40-yard line.

While it's not exactly playing football, it's a great way for coaches to install the offensive and defensive plays.

"We put everything in on offense and defense in the summer so when we start practice in August, everything is already installed," North Hall coach Bob Christmas said.

On the flip side, 7-on-7s change the strategy of football so greatly, it's hard to judge a player's performance.

Also, teams that base their offenses out of the run, like East Hall and North Hall, are limited.

"The linebackers and defensive backs are bailing on the snap, so a play-action running play is useless because everyone's playing deep for the pass."

At the same time, it gives run teams a chance to work more on passing.

"It still helps with your progressions," East Hall coach Bryan Gray said.

Though 7-on-7 scrimmages are geared toward passing, coaches also like them for the defensive aspects.

"I prefer 7-on-7s for defense," Gray said. "The defensive backs see routes constantly, and it helps to slow the game down for them while their in coverages.

Added Christmas, "It gives our defense to play against a variety of drop back plays, which they don't see when they practice with our offense."

Most area teams participate in at least one, often two 7-on-7 scrimmages with other schools each week of the seven weeks they practice. The games are often a players' favorite aspect of practice.

"Sure it is," Miller said. "It's competitive and more fun than just conditioning or lifting weights. It's actually getting involved in the game of football."

There are basically two approaches a team can take: play to win, or focus more on executing the playbook.

"We try to develop what's going to carry over to the fall," Gray said. "Some teams have a different mind set to win and they'll do things they wouldn't normally run during the season. 7-on-7s are a nice development thing, and that's how most approach it, but there are schools that look at it as a way to compete all summer and win as many tournaments as possible."



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