Before formally embarking on their quest for a state title, the Jefferson Dragons will try to win a national one -- on their own field.
Jefferson High is serving as host of the NFL 7-on-7 National Tournament, to be played July 10-11. The event will feature 22 teams that qualified through one of various region tournaments. Each of the 22 will represent an NFL team.
Jefferson will also host its regional, set for July 6-7. Tampa Catholic, Alonso, Sickles, Gaither, Robinson, Middleton and Steinbrenner are among those slated to compete. Despite being host school, Jefferson must win its region to compete in the national tournament, NFL programs assistant Kerrin Quinn said.
"We host a lot of stuff; we've worked with the NFL before," Jefferson athletic director Bob Morgan said. "We were a training center for NFL Europe; I worked with them several years. We worked closely with the Super Bowl people when they were down here, so they know us."
To compete in the national tournament, participants must complete the NFL's High School Player Development program, a 10-hour course focusing on skill and character development.