Just as the summer is heating up, the 7-on-7 football season is starting to wind down.
Five LISD schools and Anderson are nearly done with a four-week 7-on-7 league that has taken place the last three Tuesdays. The final round of games is Tuesday beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Cedar Park High School.
“It’s a good chance to get the kids together and work on team building,” Vista Ridge head coach Rodney Vincent said. “Also, it gives them a chance to cover some different kids and grow in other areas. They get a chance to work on some of the skill sets that go along with the game.”
The games are incredibly fast-paced. With two teams competing on either half of a regulation football field, games start at the 45 yard line and the only way to move the ball is through the air. The quarterback has just four seconds to throw the ball, and there’s no blocking.
No high school coaches are allowed to coach or stand with the team on the sideline, so the players are in charge of all the play calls and rotations throughout the 20-minute running clock.
Much like regular season football, touchdowns are worth six points. But instead of a field goal, the teams receive one point for a PAT scored from the 3-yard line or two points for a try from the 10.
“Offensively, it does help with quarterback and receiver timing and spacing,” Vincent said. “In 7-on-7, you may see a lot of coverages that you might not see on Friday nights. They get exposed to some other things.”
Defensively, the teams aren’t allowed to be as physical as coaches would like. However, it does offer them a chance to work on techniques in both man and zone coverage to go along with any other defensive packages.
The LISD league’s laid back atmosphere is because it’s not a state qualifying tournament. As the 7-on-7 season starts to wind down, the intensity will ramp up.
Each team will participate in a couple qualifying tournaments this summer with the top two finishers qualifying for the state tournament. It all culminates at the state tournament June 29 through July 1 at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station.
“To me, it’s about camaraderie,” Vandegrift head coach Drew Sanders said. “You’ve got to like each other. That sounds really simple, but I’ve been on teams that don’t like each other and when that’s the case we don’t overcome adversity and play hard together.”
The Vipers have one of the toughest pre-district schedules in the district traveling to face Odessa Permian in the first week of the regular season before hosting former district rivals and LISD foe Cedar Park in Week 2.
Even if 7-on-7 is a less formal way to test their skills, teams in LISD are collectively some of the best in the state and a great way to have an early, tough test.
“We’re always going to raise the level of ourselves by playing against good people,” Sanders said. “That’s been one of my beliefs since we opened the school.”