LAMPASAS — Brian Emerson does not care about the score.
He is not concerned with his team’s overall record during the 7-on-7 season and reaching the state tournament was never a priority.
Emerson knows the game of 7-on-7 football is far removed from the sport it is named after, so all Lampasas’ second-year head coach wanted to do was create comfort through distress.
“I was hoping to put a load on the quarterbacks and make them think under pressure,” Emerson said. “I wanted them to feel time constraints with people on the field and be able to communicate with the other offensive players.
“From a communication standpoint and just being able to run a no-huddle, being able to run quickly and putting some heat on the quarterback mentally, it was one of the most important things we did all offseason.”
And with good reason.
The Badgers were left with a void at quarterback following the graduation of last season’s starter, Logan Irvin. Although backup Collin Bowen is prepared to inherit the position, his skills at safety are simply to important to the team’s defense, relegating him to a backup on offense.
If the season began today, sophomore Cohen Cockburn, who is making the leap from the freshman squad to varsity, would most likely be named starter for opening night, according to Emerson.
While hoping the 7-on-7 season helped accelerate the learning process, Emerson knows a lack of experience could prove detrimental, but it is a risk worth taking.
“The speed of the game will jump all over him right off the bat with our scrimmages, but he’ll be fine,” Emerson said. “We’re looking forward to getting him out there. He’s got good size and good range. He’s quick, he’s got a good arm, and he’ll put his shoulder down and run when he has to.”
In addition to participating in a weekly league during May, for the first time in years, Lampasas competed in a 7-on-7 state qualifying tournament, going 1-2 at Burnet over the weekend in what was most likely the team’s final 7-on-7 related activity of the summer.
The Badgers opened the day with a 39-6 victory against Fredericksburg before falling to Marble Falls 47-20 and losing to two-time defending Class 2A state champion Cameron Yoe 48-6.
Scores, however, do not matter to Emerson, who never had a team compete in a state qualifying tournament during his 24-year head coaching career prior to Saturday.
“We don’t put too much stock into what happens,” he said. “Heck, we didn’t even know what to really expect. We got put into a pool with some good football teams ... and it was kind of a mixed bag, but overall, I thought it was very good for us.”
Outside of possibly finding one final state qualifying tournament to compete in, the Badgers’ 7-on-7 season is complete, allowing the players to turn their complete attention to offseason strength and conditioning programs.
Despite wanting to be more competitive, finishing with a .500 record during 7-on-7, Emerson and his coaching staff are confident the experience was beneficial.
“We let the kids do the substitutions and all that,” he said. “We just leave it up to them, and hopefully it develops leadership, working as a team and overall team development.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com