ST. PETERSBURG — It was their first offensive play, and the Admiral Farragut Blue Jackets went into their spread formation.
Wide receiver Robert Goddard was lined up on the outside. Quarterback Rayshawn Jenkins found a mismatch; Goddard took a few quick steps. Jenkins threw a quick pass, then came the afterburners and a long gain.
A few plays later, Toddrick Macon caught a pass in the flat then put a move on two players, slashing across the field.
Admiral Farragut is a small-school offensive juggernaut with a multitude of threats.
Blue Jackets coach Chris Miller prefers to take advantage of all the speed at his disposal by putting the football in the hands of his players and letting them do the rest.
That is why seven-on-seven tournaments, such as the one Farragut has participated in the past few Thursdays at Northside Christian, have become so essential.
"It's huge to be involved in them because you can basically put in your entire passing game before practice starts in the fall," Miller said.
This was not always the case. For years, coaches were not allowed to work with their teams in the summer.
Then, in 2006, the Florida High School Athletic Association relaxed the rules. Football teams still are prohibited from wearing helmets or pads and cannot partake in hitting of any form. But participation in leagues such as seven-on-seven is allowed, so long as there is a published schedule of competition.
Now seven-on-seven tournaments or leagues have become all the rage. Nike holds a national tournament. USF has one that attracts top schools from around the state.
This Northside league has attracted most of the smaller, private school programs in Pinellas County.
Lakewood, Osceola and Gibbs have participated.
Northside coach Andre Dobson was used to these summer leagues when he coached at Mount Vista Christian in Watsonville, Calif.
"It was really popular out West and something I wanted to do here," Dobson said.
This is not flag football but essentially one-handed touch football. Most fields are 40 yards in length, with teams getting four downs to go 20 yards and another four to score.
Besides working on offensive formations, teams prepare for something else: speed.
"The league helps us in a number of areas," Dobson said. "One of the big benefits is seeing a team with speed, such as Lakewood, that we're not used to seeing at this level of football."
This is the last week of the league at Northside. Fall practice begins Aug. 9.
"We've been able to shore up our pass defense and offense," Dobson said. "It's a nice tuneup for the season."