Area high school footballers play seven-on-seven during summer

By George Slaughter, Special to the Katy Times
Posted 7/13/21

For football fans, the season is a couple of months away. But now, for local players, football just finished an informal, seven-on-seven format.

Seven-on-seven football is different from Friday …

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Area high school footballers play seven-on-seven during summer

Posted

For football fans, the season is a couple of months away. But now, for local players, football just finished an informal, seven-on-seven format.

Seven-on-seven football is different from Friday night football at Legacy Stadium. The field is 45 yards long, not 100 as in regular football.

As for the players, the most obvious difference is the number of players on a side. Regular football features 11 players. On offense, a team has a quarterback, five offensive linemen and a mix of running backs and wide receivers. By contrast, seven-on-seven football features the quarterback, five wide receivers and a center.

A running back might substitute for a wide receiver now and then. Seven-on-seven football has no running plays, though. Passing is the focus here.

The center is the only offensive lineman, but he does not block as in regular football. Mayde Creek coach J Jensen said the center snaps the ball to the quarterback. The center then takes some steps and moves a cone to the line of scrimmage after the play ends.

“It’s a good way for the center to get some shotgun snaps in,” Jensen said.

Regular football is about contact and collision. Seven-on-seven football eliminates defensive tackling. Still, it enables teams to practice their defensive schemes. Or, if they’re up to it, they might try something different.

“Some teams run seven-on-seven defenses,” Jensen said.

Jensen, who watches the games without any official formal role in the voluntary activity taken on by the student-athletes, said the informal games allow the team to try defensive and offensive strategies on the field. Keeping an eye on the games is a way for the coaches to judge how their players are doing outside of regular practice as well.

Senior wide receiver Jordan Kelly participated in his first seven-on-seven action this summer.

“I’m used to tackle football, but we went out and competed,” Kelly said.

A large seven-on-seven state tournament has taken place for years. A team qualifies by winning a qualifying tournament. Tompkins’ did that this year.

Jensen said his players who participated in the seven-on-seven this year didn’t get started in time for the qualifying tournaments. So, Rams players joined Jordan, Morton Ranch, Sealy and Taylor for their informal matchups. Jensen said the Rams players finished 4-4 on their summer schedule which ended in June.

Senior linebacker James Rhodes said the seven-on-seven games gave the Rams players a chance to learn some things about themselves.

“We put in the work every day to get better,” Rhodes said. “We played eight games hard. The record is pretty half-and-half, but at the end of the day it’s all about the work we put in.”

Jensen said he and his coaches want to teach and build on the positives of the experience to help the athletes in the regular season.

“(They) did some good stuff, and … some stuff we (them) need to improve on,” Jensen said.

Jensen knows his way around Mayde Creek. He’s a 1998 graduate of that school and was a captain on a regional semi-finalist team there. He began his coaching career in 2003 at Morton Ranch Junior High. In 2005 he rejoined Mayde Creek as an offensive line coach.

Jensen joined the Alief Taylor program in 2010 as offensive coordinator and helped the Lions reach the playoffs in his four years there.

Jensen joined the Katy Taylor program in 2014 as defensive coordinator. He was part of a successful program there as the Mustangs reached the playoffs in six of his seven years there. The 2020 Mustangs reached the semifinals.

As he returns to Mayde Creek, Jensen and his new staff want to see who they have and what they can do. Players need their chance to improve their skills and show their stuff. Informal opportunities through seven-on-seven matchups give coaches a chance to observe where their players are and identify opportunities for improvement. The second team gets a chance to play and that gives coaches a chance to observe them.

“We just focused on us getting better and our getting our kids better (after watching the optional seven-on-seven scrimmages).” Jensen said.

Junior wide receiver Leroy Turner said the games provided an opportunity for everyone to get better during the summer and not just sit around.

“Everybody is learning their plays and everything,” Turner said. “We’re just getting better and ready for the fall.”

The Rams kick off their regular 2021 season Aug. 27 against Conroe at Moorehead Stadium. Jensen said players and coaches are feeling great.

“There’s a lot of excitement,” Jensen said. “We’ve got kids in the summer program and want to join the football team. Our numbers are up. We’re trying to get better and the kids have been great. Everything has been awesome.”

7 on 7, football, Mayde Creek, Taylor, Sealy, J Jensen

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