• September 22, 2014

7-on-7 football league may not be telling

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Posted: Friday, June 6, 2014 4:30 am

Random musings as I can’t remember ever attending a class once the calendar hit June.

Summertime, at least in Texas, means the start of 7-on-7 football, once a drill that has now taken on a life of its own as an AAU of sorts for high school football teams.

On one hand, there is a correlation between a strong 7-on-7 season and a strong season in the fall.

Division I champion Southlake Carroll went on to go 11-2 last season and advance to the Class 5A regional quarterfinals.

Division II champion Graham went 14-1, taking an undefeated record into a Class 3A regional final before falling to eventual state champion Argyle.

Of course, there is also plenty of evidence to the contrary, like when 2012 Division I champion Plano went on to go 5-6 the ensuing season.

My personal opinion was swayed by Midland Lee head coach James Morton, whose team finally joined the 7-on-7 phenomenon last summer for the first time in his five years as head of the program.

The decision to join the masses was precipitated by a move to a spread offense under new offensive coordinator Cliff Watkins from an offense that routinely handed the ball off 40-plus times.

On one hand, the Rebels appeared to benefit from the extra reps as they averaged 40.3 points per game last season while winning nine games and making the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

But as Morton told me season after season, games are won up front on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

Both lines are conspicuously missing in 7-on-7, not to mention the absence of running plays and throws under pressure, hence the sporadic correlation between success in the summer and success on Friday nights.

Thus, 7-on-7 results must be taken with a grain of salt.

A strong 7-on-7 season paired with experience on both lines can be a recipe for a deep playoff run.

But if a team can’t run the football effectively or protect the passer on offense or stop the run or pressure the passer on defense, it won’t have great success on Friday nights.

After all, 7-on-7 did start as a drill.

I’ve already written my analysis of the NBA Finals for the Killeen Daily Herald, but what that piece didn’t include is the fascinating historical ramifications of this series for both teams and their stars.

With a win, the San Antonio Spurs will tie the Los Angeles Lakers for most titles since Michael Jordan retired, giving them a claim — if they haven’t already grabbed that title — to best team of this generation.

The Miami Heat, meanwhile, are trying to cement themselves as a dynasty, whether you like it or not, by joining the Lakers and the Chicago Bulls as the only teams to 3-peat in the modern era.

On that same note, a fifth ring puts Tim Duncan in the same company as Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant while a third ring puts LeBron James — well, nowhere, but it adds steam to his still-in-progress pursuit of the Greatest of All-Time title.

A loss, however, likely ends that case for LeBron as three Finals losses is hard to compare to none. Jordan never lost in the Finals.

A loss for Duncan and the Spurs may make them a historical footnote a la the Utah Jazz, who pushed Jordan and the Bulls in two straight Finals only to come up short.

And the irony in all of this is that the same can easily have been said of both teams last year.

Which means five years from now, with hindsight being 20/20, every sentence I just wrote may end up being false.

But for now, it certainly is captivating to ponder.

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