A Dallas County receiver catches a pass despite tight coverage from a Southside defender during a 7-on-7 game between the two schools at Southside High School on June 26.-- File Photo

In 7-on-7 drills, the final result usually goes unnoticed

Published 7:00pm Saturday, July 6, 2013

By Daniel Evans
The Selma Times-Journal

During the offseason, football teams look for any way to improve. Successful teams usually spend long hours in the weight room over the course of the summer. A lot of times, team leaders take charge and hold unofficial practices.

Under AHSAA and AISA rules, teams are only allowed so many competitive days in the offseason. For AHSAA teams, schools are allowed four competitive days. AISA teams are given seven.

In today’s football environment, most offseason “competition days” are limited to 7-on-7 action, featuring local schools. For those that do not know, 7-on-7 is unique because the players are not in any pads (excluding helmets) in a game that features only pass plays and no offensive or defensive line. Basically, the field is full of skill position players. On offense, there is a quarterback, running back, and wide receivers, but only passes are allowed.

“I think 7-on-7 doesn’t determine a lot, but you can get competition out of it,” Southside High School head coach Daniel Flowers said. “You don’t have the fronts — the offensive line, the defensive line — so it is not as realistic, but you always want to get something out of 7-on-7. I feel that the will to win and compete is what we get out of it. “

Although there is probably a conditioning advantage to 7-on-7, some coaches argue there is a disadvantage to the drills.

“It is not about winning and losing, but people put winning and losing in it when it is not realistic. You don’t have a rush. When you’ve got defensive ends that are coming at the quarterback, then that quarterback’s mind is not on receivers,” Selma High School head coach Leroy Miles said. “His mind is on alluding the rush. It makes it easy on the quarterback. A quarterback can stand back there and pick you apart in four seconds, because he doesn’t have a rush.”

For teams that feature mainly the running game, playing in a 7-on-7 game means tweaking their offensive system in order to compete in the event.

“We have a 7-on-7 offense that we run. It is not part of our regular offense for the year, but what happens is we take all of our pass routes and all of our coverage stuff and it is implemented into what we are doing for 7-on-7,” Dallas County interim head coach Barry Colburn said. “We are a running team. We line up with a tight end, a fullback, and tailback. In this situation, you don’t have those things. We don’t really run our regular offense. We have a separate offense we run for 7-on-7, but our plays for the 7-on-7 have all of our terminology and have of all our routes and our secondary coverage that we use in our regular offense during the year.”

A lot of times the score is not kept at these events. However, coaches usually admit to knowing whether or not they’ve won or lost at the end of the game.

“Always remember this. Everyone always says, 7-on-7, we aren’t keeping score anyways. Any coach that isn’t keeping score doesn’t need to be over there coaching,” Colburn joked.

However, all coaches seem to agree that winning and losing really doesn’t matter in 7-on-7. Even though coming out on top of the scoreboard is nice, it really doesn’t mean anything. Experience is key in an environment where neither the offensive nor defensive line — the players inside the trenches that usually have a large role in deciding games — is on the field.

Southside and Dallas County have already taken part in 7-on-7 drills at Southside and Chilton County High School. On July 23, both schools will take part in another 7-on-7 at Southside. Selma participated in the first of Southside’s 7-on-7 events and will also participate in the second one at the end of July.

Other schools, like Keith High School, Meadowview Christian, and Morgan Academy have not participated in a 7-on-7 event this offseason.

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