Category Archives: 7on7

The 7v7 Football Debate – Lord, Just Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

The 7v7 Football Debate

TJ Cotterill penned an excellent article in the Tacoma News Tribune recently regarding the raging 7v7 football debate.

I get the comparison between 7v7 and AAU basketball, but what sometimes gets lost in the shuffle is one inescapable fact: they are different sports. High school basketball is the same sport as AAU basketball, played with the same rules, on the same courts. The same can’t be said for 7v7 football, played sans lineman, tackling, blocking, and 60 of the field’s 100 yards.

That alone should be a huge line in the sand on the question as to whether 7v7 can ever replace or even rival “real” football. For some reason however, it’s not, inspiring all manner of vitriol from coaches, press and parents alike. As for the kids who are actually playing it, well, they all seem to love it.

Perhaps instead of everyone butting heads on the question, it would be more beneficial to consider how to maximize 7v7’s potential for what it should be: a teaching and training tool to help young athletes grow their skills and athleticism between football seasons.

First, is there any good at all to be had from off-season 7v7 participation?

It provides an avenue for athletes to compete in the off season, developing their competitiveness, and teaching how to perform well in pressure-packed situations. While that’s often named as a key benefit of football athletes playing basketball or running track, it seems to be often forgotten with 7v7.

7v7 lets athletes develop their skills against many of the best in the game. Working against high-level competition is a proven way to elevate one’s skills. In practice and tournaments receivers will face an entire backfield comprised of elite talents. The reverse is also true.

During the season they may only face one or two of these players per game, perhaps none. It forces them to elevate their games in a way that’s impossible when not facing such ubiquitous skill. It is hard to argue against that.

Is it a replacement for 11-man football with pads on? Of course not, but no one is suggesting they play that in February, March, and April.

It also lets them compare their skills to see how they really stack up against others at their position. No matter how often many decry the activity, the fact remains, many of football’s best high school athletes are now playing 7v7.

The better 7v7 organizations instill the value of hard work and it’s necessity to achieve elite results. When younger athletes are going through intense workouts in a room full of athletes with multiple college offers, it sets an example. They see the offered athletes are typically the hardest workers.

That illustrates a connection between hard work and desired results. They want someone to emulate if a scholarship is their goal, and following a hard-working example who has achieved it is very powerful.

School v 7…

A common refrain when discussing 7v7 is “Athletes should play school sports in the other seasons instead of playing 7v7.”

Why is that an either/or proposition? It’s not, and never will be, no matter how often that argument is made.

Many of those playing 7v7 are multi-sport athletes, and I’ve yet to meet one who is playing 7v7 instead of playing a school sport. It’s likely those players don’t exist, despite claims to the contrary. Many play basketball, wrestle, run track, and play baseball.

What’s often forgotten is that high school basketball is highly competitive. Relatively few make their high school teams. In most cases they number only 12-15 on a varsity basketball team, compared to the 70-100 playing varsity football. Throw in JV and freshman teams for both sports and it still means some excellent athletes are watching high school basketball, rather than playing it.

It’s impossible to successfully argue that watching high school basketball is better for off-season football athletes than playing 7v7. In most cases the kids will do both; watch their high school basketball games and play 7v7.

What about participating in team off-season weights and agility programs instead of playing 7v7 for those not playing basketball? Again, it’s definitely not an either/or proposition. I know from first-hand experience. My son plays 7v7 and high school basketball, and was one of the few basketball players to also regularly take part in the off-season school football weight program.

As to the question of their 7v7 team taking precedence over their school 7v7 team during tournaments, any of the leading 7v7 programs in our area insist that their players play for or practice with their school 7v7 team when there is a schedule conflict. There should be no other way. The same holds for drills with team players.

Athletes are athletes and will play sports every chance they get. It fuels their competitive desires and enhances their skills.

7v7 Problems

Are there problems with 7v7? Of course, there are problems with nearly anything.

7v7 tournament officiating lets a wide variety of defensive activities go unpunished that would be yellow laundry and 15 yards in a football game. While corners and safeties should be aggressive, that disparity should be addressed. Letting DBs get away with using tactics that lead to penalties don’t’ help them play better when September rolls around.

Some 7v7 programs do not teach sound technique, and don’t use actual defensive and offensive schemes. That limits 7v7s use as a learning and training tool. That’s a shame because it ignores a big opportunity for athletes to come back to their high school programs better players than when they left. Some programs however do emphasize proper defensive cover and press technique, wide receiver route running, releases, and competing for the football.

A fine line is that 7v7 is supposed to be a fun activity that kids enjoy while they hone their WR/DB/QB skills for the coming season. Football has tended to stifle their enjoyment somewhat in the name of sportsmanship. Yes, you should be calm, and act like you’ve been there before. No, you should definitely not taunt or disrespect opposing players or teams.

The reality though, is that these are kids, and they like to show some jubilation when good things happen. It’s another opportunity to teach good sportsmanship without quashing the fun of being a kid for a few more years, before the “real world” sets in. Is it always used that way? No.

7v7 is expensive. Sure, but so is AAU basketball, traveling baseball, and elite soccer. One could pay a 2nd home mortgage for what many parents pay for those other activities. In light of that, 7v7 is often a mere pittance.

Do 7v7 kids have more attitude problems, and does it promote such behavior? That’s up to the program. One suspects kids with bad attitudes had them anyway. You’ll find examples of a wide range of attitudes in any organization. It’s up to the organization’s leaders to promote good attitudes and extinguish bad ones. Which are rewarded, and which aren’t?

Many of the HS coaches in the article have athletes that play 7v7. In many cases it is some of their best players. Are they better because they played 7v7 and trained during the off season or would they have been their best players anyway?

From the teams I’m familiar with, it is both. They would have been their best players anyway, and they are better because of their off-season training and 7v7 participation.

What About Recruiting, Anyway?

There is a reason so many multi-starred football recruits hail from the sunshine states, and it has nothing to do with that glowing orb in the sky. It’s largely because football is a culture there. For many years they have had sports-specific training facilities, (football, for this discussion) that give high level athletes a chance to develop their skills and bodies during the off season.

We are now seeing that type of facility in the PNW. It’s a change and change is often viewed with suspicion.

  • Do college coaches really use what they see when evaluating players?
  • Do 7v7 and 1v1 activities make a difference?

Who can tell with certainty, but players regularly get offered scholarships immediately after 7v7 tournaments and college camps. No tackling or blocking to found at either of those…..

One thing is certain, it is and will continue to be an athlete’s play on the field between September and November (hopefully) that determine if they get to play at the next level, and their parents can spend the college money on a new boat. Can 7v7 and dedicated, position-specific training help their play, over simply lifting weights and running hills in the off season?

If one looks at the area’s top “skill position” (Bad term. All positions require skill) players, those leading the recruit boards, there are 2 common threads: off season training and elite 7v7 participation. Look for yourself, if you doubt this. Would these players have been those on the recruit boards anyway? Possibly, but as noted the lack of dedicated sports specific off season training programs put local athletes at somewhat of a disadvantage compared to other locales.

Does elite 7v7 team participation help recruiting? Again, who really knows, but when area 7v7 and all-star football teams like Team Seattle and Team Oregon FBU consistently show well against the best from football hotbed states, it shines a light in our direction. That attention helps all our area kids who have designs on playing at the next level one day.

The best players in the fall are those getting recruited, no ands, ifs or buts. No college coach will put his job on the line spending the school’s valuable recruiting resources on a great 7v7 player if that kid’s high school play doesn’t measure up. A receiver who is a stellar 7v7 player but can’t seem to translate that to the tackle game will find himself watching college football from his living room.

The reverse isn’t true. A linebacker who is not a great 7v7 player, but is 6’2”, runs a 4.7, has great instincts, and leads the league in tackles will get plenty of looks.

Number of Washington State Athletes 3-Star and Higher Receiving College offers

source: 24/7 sports

  • 2018 – 29 (Note: These players have yet to play their senior seasons)
  • 2017 – 19
  • 2016 – 20
  • 2015 – 20
  • 2013 – 17
  • 2012 – 17
  • 2011 – 16

Circling back, 7v7 is merely “….a teaching and training tool to help young athletes grow their skills and athleticism between football seasons.”. As with any tool, it can be used effectively, or misused. It’s up to all of those involved must come together and find a way to use it to enhance athletes’ play in the field and provide another positive outlet for kids.

Are We Missing the Freakin Boat Here??

There is a big opportunity here.  The question is whether athletes and coaches alike will be able to take advantage of it. Ideas, anyone?

 

Rise Football Freshman Team Wins the 2017 NW Showcase 7v7

Rise Football Freshman Team Wins the 2017 NW Showcase 7v7

NFA7v7 is one of the nation’s leading 7v7 organizations. Their season culminates in the IMG Academy (yes, THAT IMG Academy) National 7v7 Championship in Brandenton Florida. Getting there requires teams fight their way through one of the national qualifying tournaments scattered throughout the country.

The NW regional IMG championship qualifier is the NW Showcase 7v7 Tournament, presented by Rise Football. Rise kicked off the inaugural version of the event April 2016 at the same stadium: Kent, WA’s French Field. French is a 3,600 capacity high school stadium 25 miles south east of Seattle.

The boys from Rise Football had their sights set on a Florida trip in mid-June. That meant 2 days of intense competition with some of the best 7v7 teams in the northwest. Last year, it came down to 2 of the top programs as well; Bellevue, WA based Ford Sports Performance (FSP) vs E-Force Football, from the Portland, OR suburb of Clackamas.

The Rise boys got some revenge when they traveled down I-5 on Memorial Day weekend and took the inaugural Oregon Invitational Memorial Day 7v7 Tournament, hosted by EForce Football. Rise went an undefeated 7-0 on the day to take the OIM title.

Repeat NW Showcase 7v7 Winner?

E-Force took the trophy with them back down the I-5 to Portland. That was last year. This year, the Rise boys, who lost in 2016 to finalists FSP in an exciting semi-finals OT game, had more focus, and another year of working together. They are largely the same players as last year’s team, and have showed dramatic improvement since the 2016 Las Vegas Pylon Tournament in March.

The 2 day NW Showcase tournament has teams play a series of games on day 1 to set the seeding for day 2’s single elimination bracket games. Rise entered the bracket as the undefeated 1 seed, looking to prove something.

Sibling Rivalry in the Semis

Entering the bracket semi final games Rise Freshman faced their “little brothers”, the vaunted Rise Football middle school team, one of the nation’s best. QB Jake Sype is one of the country’s best young signal callers, displaying leadership and decision making skills well ahead of his years.

After a tight start, the freshman pulled away, although it proved to be one of their weekend’s most difficult contests. They had a finals berth! The only question… Who would they face?

7v7 Tournament Finals Rise Football Freshman vs EForce Select

 

Rise’s 6’4″ / 195lb 2020 QB Jack Hanisch (Peninsula HS) can sling it short and long, makes good decisions, and has one of the best freshman receiver corps on the west coast to target.

Malaki Roberson #24 (GKHS) is a super quick, athletic receiver with hops and a great set of hands who fights for the football. He’s just as dangerous after the catch, maybe more.

Jasiah Snow-Marshall #11 (Lincoln HS) feasts on the deep ball. He’s got speed for days, is 6’2″ and has excellent ball sense. With his speed, he’s a huge threat in the open field once he has the ball in his hands, which are excellent.

Michael Faber #7 (KRHS) uses his speed, length (almost 6’2″, with long arms), and excellent route running to create catch plentiful opportunities, that his terrific hands can take advantage of. They do, on routes short and long, inside and out.

Chase Wittmers #9 (PenHS) is fast, big, and knows how to get his hands on the football, whether that means leaping high in the air, or fighting for it in traffic against even the most talented DBs. He’s also Hanish’s teammate at Peninsula HS.

D2

The Rise defense has been lock down all 7v7 season, and they continued that trend against EForce in the NW Showcase final. They  forced several 4 second sacks, as their were simply no open receivers to throw to. They also tallied 3 interceptions, 2 by safety Alex Rogers (#12) (FWHS) who’s a always terror for opponents.

In NFA7v7 the defense has ample scoring opportunities, with a defensive stop scoring 2 points and an interception being worth 3. Rise’s 3 interceptions gave them 9 points, about half their margin of victory.

2017 NW Showcase 7v7 Tournament Final Score

  • Rise Football 36
  • EForce Football 22

Media was plentiful at the tournament. Under the Radar Sports Media was there covering the event, along with Scout and the Seattle Times.

Under the Radar’s highlight video is below. UTR did it in HD, so hit the arrows to watch it in full screen.

7v7 Tournaments – 2016 EForce Football OR Invitational

7v7 Tournament: EForce Football Oregon Memorial Day Invitational

May 28, 2016  – The Rise Football c/o 2020 team made the trip down I-5 from Puyallup, WA with the greatest expectations. After all, they’d finished 3rd in April’s IMG qualifier in Kent, WA, barely losing to eventual winner and OR Invitational hosts EForce Football the month before. They’d improved with every tournament since the Pylon Las Vegas tournament in March, where they started slow, but showed well on Day 2.

In Oregon, the Rise kids showed those expectations were warranted, rolling through the pool play and elimination rounds that set up a meeting with EForce in the tournament final.

And the Winner Is….

In the end, Rise Football emerged victorious, going 7-0 in the tournament and posting a 24-14 win over EForce and avenging the Oregon squad’s win in the Rise hosted Northwest Showcase Tournament the previous month.

Players

6’2″ 2020 QB Jack Hanisch more than lived up to his reputation, dropping dimes all day. Whether he was threading lasers into impossibly tight windows between defenders, or dropping them out of the sky from more than 40 yards away, he hit about every pass during the day.

His receivers showed their appreciation, plucking footballs out of the air, and ripping them from defenders’ hands. The team brought only 9 members, meaning most did duty on both sides of the ball the entire day. It didn’t matter, as they posted an incredible performance on defense as well.

Tournament defensive MVP Alex Rogers (#12) came from the Rise squad and was everywhere, totalling 7 INTs on the day.

WR/LB Chase Wittmers (#18)was grabbing interceptions and passes all tournament long, pulling down 4 INTs, breaking up several other passes and leaping over defenders to make some of the day’s most awe-inspiring catches as a WR on offense.

Other 2-way Players to Note:

Super quick, blue-gloved LB/WR Malakai Roberson (#24) picked off 2 passes at the line of scrimmage from his linebacker spot, and made plenty of fantastic catches, including a spectacular grab on a long pass late in the championship final game.

Jasaiah Snow-Marshall (#11) has been a top performer for the team all season long, dating to their appearance in the NW Elite tournament during Jan and Feb. Snow, as he’s known, made a plethora of excellent catches and was all over the field on defense.

While he didn’t play much on defense, WR Michael Faber (#5) made what was perhaps the catch of the day, a running 1-handed grab on what became both a 40 yard TD and the go-ahead score in the championship final game  against eForce. It was his 2nd TD catch in the championship game, pulling in his first on a shallow cross for the game’s first score.

Rise Football Oregon Invitational Championship Final Game Highlights

Tournament Elimination Round Highlights

Elimination Game 1

Elimination Game 2

7on7 Passing League Football – The New Football?

7on7 Passing League Football – The New Football?

It’s sweeping the nation, 7on7 passing league football. 7on7 is action packed, fun to watch, a blast to play, and helps players develop DB, QB, and WR skills in what was formerly the off season. As it is with many college and pro athletes,  off seasons are largely in the rear view mirror. For most high school and even middle school players, it’s training year round if you want to stay competitive.

The competition 7on7 offers lets players come to fall camps better players than when they left at the end of the previous season. Most elite level players are fierce competitors. For them, winter and spring 7on7 is just what the doctor ordered.

5 years ago, 7on7 was largely confined to southern football hotbeds: Texas, Georgia, So Cal, and Florida. Those days are gone, with 7on7 leagues springing up throughout the US and Canada.

It doesn’t stop with new leagues. Tournaments are available nearly everywhere, with many leading up to national contests. Some are in major venues, with leading 7on7 organization PylonFootball holding a youth tourney on July 4th in Texas Stadium. Yes, THAT Texas Stadium; the house that Jerry built. Few 6th – 8th graders would ever get the chance to play on such a stage otherwise.

In the Pacific NW, Barton Football holds their Battle in Seattle 7on7 Passing Tournament, attracting some of the region’s best high school and youth players, looking for a win and the chance to prove their talent. Talent was there in abundance, with one team in 2014 fielding 13 signed D1 college recruits, and the media such players attract. 2015 talent was just as prolific.

Ah, recruiting, there is the other big 7on7 draw. As southern players discovered,  7on7 is terrific for not only improving your skills, but showcasing them. It offers media members a way to see many elite level players together in one place at the same time. For athletes, especially those from smaller schools who may be miss the exposure those from larger schools get, it’s pure recruiting gold.

Most of these are flag or 2 hand touch, so although the competition’s fierce, the contact isn’t (usually). Even so, many organizations require all players except QBs to wear soft shell helmets to guard against collision caused head injuries. It’s another plus for athletes looking to skill up without getting laid up.

7on7 passing league football is exploding in popularity with good reason. If your kids just need a way to occupy their spring, or are more advanced athletes trying to pave the way to college, 7on7 may be just the ticket.

Here’s What You Get With 7on7 Passing

 


 

7on7 Football Interception
Kent Knights DB Michael Faber Gets Up for the 1-Handed INT
DB Picks Clean
DB Picks Clean

 

7on7 Passing league football defense
Knights’ DB Max Garett Ds Up WR Mez Johnson

 

7on7 passing league INT
Knights’ DB Michael Faber high points an INT in 7on7 passing league football for the Kent Knights.

 

Knights' WR Mez Johnson gets in for a TD.

Knights’ WR Mez Johnson gets in for a TD.

 

7on7 football diving catch
Knights’ WR Dyllon Daniels makes a dope diving catch.

 

Check with  youth football organizations or school coaches for local 7on7 teams and leagues. Below are a few (but nowhere near all) organizations offering 7on7 passing league football competition. If you want your organization listed, please let me know in the comments, thanks!

Texas Elite 7on7 (TX)

Pylon Football (TX, holds tournaments throughout the US)

Western States Athletics (CA)

4 Vertical (CA)

Barton Football (Metro Seattle and Portland, OR Areas)

Kent Knights (WA)

All American 7on7 (IL)

Georgia 7on7 Passing League (GA)