Channon Hall does not see any correlation between success during 7-on-7 competitions and success during the regular season.
He does believe participating in the glorified version of flag football helps produce success, though, and he intends to use the local league to jumpstart the melding process within his team.
The Shoemaker Grey Wolves are one of five teams participating in the Killeen Independent School District’s 7-on-7 league, competing every Tuesday evening during the month of June.
While different coaches participate in 7-on-7 for different reasons, Hall believes the basic purpose is to simply get his skill players on the same page.
“We’re not practicing to win the championship of 7-on-7,” Hall said. “We just want our kids speaking our language, our receivers and quarterbacks getting their chemistry down and our (defensive backs) covering people.
“We don’t put too much stock in predicting how the season is going to go (based) on 7-on-7. We want to run the ball anyway.”
Played without pads or helmets, 7-on-7 football is essentially touch football on a shortened field with abbreviated halves. While the game is merely a shell of actual football, all four KISD coaches, who alternate hosting the local league, which began last week at Shoemaker and also includes Salado, endorse it.
Although Hall intends to use the league to create cohesion, Harker Heights head coach Mike Mullins merely wants his players to remain active during the summer break.
“It is really hard to gauge sometimes how a receiver can get open against certain people if they aren’t getting jammed hard at the line of scrimmage,” Mullins said. “It is not like when you are playing for real with pads.
“It is good for them to be out in that weather and keep in some sort of shape that will help them later on down the line.”
Each team plays three games every week although the league is being conducted in an extremely relaxed manner with the schedule being made just prior to the beginning of each session.
After opening at Shoemaker, Killeen is hosting games today, beginning at 6:15 p.m. with the site moving the Ellison the following week. Games played on June 25 will occur at Leo Buckley Stadium, but Harker Heights will serve as the official host.
“I think (7-on-7) is important,” Killeen head coach Sam Jones said. “I think it is why we have so many quarterbacks across the state of Texas now that get to play at the next level. They’ve already started throwing the football in high school a lot. It is definitely important to our season.”
The league used to include Belton, Copperas Cove and Waco University, but was reduced over time. Despite having fewer teams, the league has grown to incorporate middle school teams and freshman teams. Additionally, at 5:45 p.m. each Tuesday, a lineman competition, consisting of various strength-based challenges, is conducted.
First-year Ellison coach Trent Gregory saw his players excel during the KISD league’s opening night of play last week.
“All the kids played really well,” Gregory said. “In fact, our kids won the (lineman) competition, so that was really cool to see.”
While some coaches, including Hall, Gregory and Jones, enter their teams in state qualifying tournaments in hopes of reaching the 2013 State 7-on-7 Tournament on July 11-13 at Leander, most local coaches are really only concerned with the byproducts 7-on-7 football creates.
“The purpose of it is to let your skill kids enhance their ability to catch and throw the football,” Jones said.
“It is just good to get out, keep the kids running and throwing and get some good exercise,” he said.
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org