It isn’t often Jerry Edwards, Trent Gregory and Sam Jones get to watch high school football as a spectator — especially ones involving their respective Killeen ISD teams.
But head coaches aren’t allowed to coach in any aspect of 7-on-7 — and the coaches actually don’t mind watching from afar, which they’ll do again tonight when the Killeen ISD teams play a round robin at Ellison.
“I actually enjoy it,” said Gregory, who is in his second season as head coach at Ellison. “I have a chance to kind of step back and watch the kids in action from a distance.”
“I actually enjoy it,” added Edwards, also in his second year as head coach at Heights. “I like to just sit back and not have to worry about critiquing and looking for this and looking for that and just to sit back and enjoy my kids compete and see how they perform and kind of evaluate a little bit more.
“Then you just kind of use that and file that away and, when we get back in August, sit down and talk to them about some things I saw.”
Jones said he actually hopes his Killeen Kangaroos are able to grow as he watches from afar.
To him, 7-on-7 offers a unique opportunity for the players to develop chemistry without coaches watching as closely.
“One thing is hopefully it develops leadership, togetherness without coaches being there to do it for them,” Jones said. “So hopefully, they will bond together, have that special bond — that’s what it could bring.”
Of course, the players aren’t the only ones benefitting from the unique circumstances.
Edwards said he feels like watching his players from a different perspective helps him as a coach.
“I’ve noticed that a little bit more this year just being a first-time head coach,” Edwards said, “just kind of taking different perspective and looking at it in a different way and then looking at it from a spectator.
“It’s totally different looking at it than when you’re actually trying to install or coach a kid.”
But in the end, while the games aren’t quite what takes place on Friday nights in the fall, the coaches said the players still benefit largely from the extra reps.
“Anytime the kids have a chance to get out and play some football whether it’s 7-on-7 or whatever the case may be, they’re going to continue to improve and grow,” Gregory said.
Edwards said he and his staff make sure to let the players know that, win or lose, they can’t expect the regular season to go like 7-on-7.
But even without him on the sideline, Edwards said he believes his players are benefitting from the weekly 7-on-7 round robins.
“It’s a totally different game than what you get in August,” Edwards said, “But from a competitive point, I think it’s good.
“Kids get out there and get a chance to compete and to find that competitive edge that’s buried inside of them and bring that out.”