Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

High school football practices take advantage of summer with 7-on-7 play

TAMPA — Although current Bloomingdale football coach John Booth graduated from high school a little more than a decade ago, summertime routines from that time period seem somewhat Paleolithic.

Booth, a 2000 Manatee graduate, spent the summers back then pumping iron or running around the track.

"Football has certainly become much more of a year-round sport, even since I played in high school," Booth said. "It's changed a lot."

Even at a state powerhouse like Manatee, there was little in the way of structure.

"The coaches would basically just open up the weight room and have us come and go as we please," Booth said. "Summer was far less committed back then."

But 7-on-7 changed all of that.

The touch football game has become the norm for the vast majority of players in the summer, with pass patterns replacing wind sprints. The contests pit skill position players against each other: a quarterback, running backs and receivers on the offense; linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties on the defense. Every play is a passing play and there is no hitting.

"I think it's very important for the kids," Spoto coach Dale Caparaso said. "We are playing in four tournaments."

Although there is no doubt 7-on-7's appeal is on the rise — there are tournaments across the state during the summer — not every coach is sold on the idea.

"I think it has its benefits but it's gotten so competitive to the point where teams aren't just fine-tuning their offense, they are actually putting in new offenses for these summer tournaments," said Booth, whose Bulls play in one tournament.

"If you're not practicing the plays that you're going to use in the fall, I think that can be counterproductive."

Booth is also concerned with the wares being offered. Some tournament sponsors are awarding equipment, trips and even cash prizes to winning teams.

"One of the big problems I have is that kids are kind of starting to lose their amateur status a little bit," he said. "I mean, these tournaments are on ESPN now. I think we're putting these kids on too high of a pedestal too soon and the purity is somewhat being lost."

One thing most coaches agree upon is that 7-on-7 creates a level of competition that workouts at school cannot duplicate.

"I love the competition aspect of it," Booth said. "You get to see how guys react in competitive situations they will be in when the games do start to count."

Caparaso agreed, saying it also motivates kids by keeping sometimes stale traditional summer conditioning fresh.

"It's a tremendous tool from the competition aspect," he said. "And it breaks up the running and conditioning, so I know the kids like it."

In terms of recruiting, the jury is still out on how much, if at all, 7-on-7 tournaments help players. Caparaso said these tournaments can "get guys on college radars" but only if the right people are in attendance."

Travel all-star teams are now starting to pop up, including Team Tampa, which features rising seniors including Armwood's Alvin Bailey and Wharton's Vernon Hargeaves. The team recently won a national tournament at Bradenton's IMG Academy. But Booth cautioned some players' expectations are too lofty in terms of how much 7-on-7 helps in recruiting.

"It's tough because it's not the same as when there is a guy rushing (the quarterback) or when there is hitting," Booth said. "And a lot of these kids think if they can get on a travel team, then they are automatically going (Division I). That's just not the reality."

Brandon Wright can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

UPDATE, 10:40: Like most teams, Rays officials are heading out of the meetings though with only a drive across I-4 – though not always short – will continue trade discussions.As for the talks that had reached "advanced" stage last night, ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

What follows below is a ranking of all 32 NFL teams. To build this list, we consulted five objective measures of team strength: Pro Football Reference’s Simple Rating System, Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average ratings...
Updated: 3 hours ago

North shuts out South squad in Pinellas All-Star Football Classic

CLEARWATER — The players had so much fun, officials at Clearwater High School literally had to turn off the lights post-game to get everyone to go home.With more than 60 talented and motivated seniors participating in Wednesday's 23rd annu...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Does UCF have a shot at a split national championship?

Does UCF have a shot at a split national championship?

Reader Ken Kueker asked a great question yesterday:"If UCF beats Auburn in the Peach Bowl, what do you think of voting them #1 in your AP ranking?"My short answer is the obvious cop-out: It depends on how UCF looks (is it a triple-overtime win o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones answer a lightning round of questions. Will Dirk Koetter be the Bucs’ coach next year? Where will Evan Longoria be on Opening Day? Will the Lightning win the Stanley Cup? Who will be better next year...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

DETROIT — Brad Marchand assisted on the tying goal late in regulation and scored the winner 35 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings on Wednesday.The Bruins managed only two shots on goal in the first period but tw...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

UPDATE, 5:55: Trade talks apparently picked up this afternoon, perhaps related to previous activity by other teams, and for first time Rays officials sound like something could happen tonight."At this point today, some of those conversations are movi...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.In doing so, whether for that reason or another mor...
Updated: 12 hours ago