That doesn’t mean the local gridiron squads have been completely inactive, however, with weight room workouts, informal drills, spring practice and summer camps becoming a regular part of the offseason schedule.
Teams have also been sharpening their skills in 7-on-7 competition, which has gained popularity on the high school level over the past decade.
The 7-on-7 format emphasizes the passing game on both offense and defense, with no running plays allowed.
A 7-on-7 game consists of four 10-minute quarters, with each possession starting at the 40-yard line. The team has three downs instead of the usual four.
Scoring can be done both offensively and defensively, with the usual six points for a touchdown, one point for an extra-point pass attempt from 10 yards out and two points for an extra-point try from 15 yards as well as three points for an interception.
St. Pius X hosted its George Maloof tournament June 14, with Riverwood also among the field of teams.
“We did well,” said Riverwood coach Robert Ingram, whose Raiders also participated in a tournament at Kennesaw State July 10 through 12. “We played against some big-time talent, some very good teams. I felt like we held our own. We improved over the course of the summer and that’s what you’re really looking for over the course of the summer — to get better and better every time you line up.”
Pace had some success this summer, winning its pool at the Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship in Dalton July 13 and 14.
“It’s the first time we’ve won anything at our school, football related,” Pace coach Chris Slade said. “It was a big boost for our confidence. We did play a couple of teams that are [Class] AAAA and AAAAA schools. We beat a team from Alabama that was a AAAAAA school with over 3,000 students. We were right there playing with the best of them.”
For Slade, the tournament was a team-bonding experience.
“The team spent the whole weekend together in Dalton,” Slade said. “We made sure that our guys got to know each other and I thought that was big for team camaraderie. It’s a very close-knit team. These guys are very close and it’s really good to see. I thought the tournament was big for the team.”
North Atlanta participated in the Hickory Flats tournament in Woodstock June 22 and the UT-Chattanooga competition July 13. Coach Doug Britten said it was a positive experience for his young team.
“We didn’t do great,” Britten said. “We’re not a throwing team. I think our participation definitely helped us get better on both sides of the ball. But that’s not really our game, throwing the football. We’re more play-action pass, throwing the ball maybe 12 or 15 times a game. But, participating definitely helped our young kids out, getting some early experience.”
Westminster, Holy Innocents’ and Marist participated in an informal passing league every Tuesday, along with Woodward, Chamblee, Dunwoody, Druid Hills and Cross Keys.
“We do 15 minutes of offense and 15 minutes of defense and then we rotate,” Holy Innocents’ coach Ryan Livezey said.
For Westminster coach Gerry Romberg, it was a good way to work on the Wildcats’ passing game.
“You get your receivers and quarterbacks on offense and your defensive backs and linebackers on defense running around a little bit,” Romberg said. “The offense works on timing and route running and the defense works on coverage. We just get our guys out there to get acclimated to our passing game and pass coverage on defense.”
Marist coach Alan Chadwick said his team uses the 7-on-7 format to establish its aerial attack.
“We don’t do any competitions,” Chadwick said. “We use it more as an installation-type thing, to get our passing game installed — working on coverages and new personnel, things like that, getting them experience.”
Livezey said 7-on-7 is an important part of the Golden Bears’ preparation for the season.
“That’s when we get the bulk of our passing game work in,” he said. “Throughout the season, we’re mainly a run-based offense. We don’t get a tremendous amount of time to practice the passing game. So, during the summer, it’s important for us to get a lot of work in during that time, so that — during the season — we’re doing a lot of fine-tuning instead of installing at that point.”