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7-on-7 impact: LT, Naz quarterbacks relish pass-heavy competitions

High school football teams are preparing for the fall season with summer camps and workouts.

There's one thing that's becoming more and more prevalent that allows the players to get a change of pace from the daily grind of summer practices: 7-on-7 football.

It's a quarterback's dream. Pass every down and don't face a pass rush.

"It's good to get good work in with the receivers," said Nazareth senior QB Jake Bartels. "It's nice to be able to build good relationship with them and get good timing down. It's just good competition. Instead of going against each other every day in practice, it's nice to go up against some other teams."

Bartels is having a busy summer playing baseball and football. He was one of the top pitchers and hitters on the Roadrunner baseball team and is the returning starter at quarterback.

The Roadrunners hosted a casual version of 7-on-7 on June 26 and played games against Hinsdale South, Plainfield North and Ridgewood. They didn't keep score and were able to shift in a lot of players.

Other versions are more competitive. Wheaton Warrenville South's Red Grange Classic included many of the top teams in the state in a 24-team field. Multiple refs help score the game.

“It’s pretty fun. It gets the team going," said Lyons Township QB Tommy Fiedler. "It’s not real football, but it definitely lets you know what you have to work on for the season.”

The competition and getting plays in, whether they're modified or not, is the plus side of 7-on-7. The downside is that it can create bad habits for defenders. Playing two-hand touch instead of tackle can change the way players approach the point of contact. For teams that run the ball a lot, it's also not the best practice for your offense.

Morton coach Bob Organ has his team playing in three 7-on-7s this summer. He's not the biggest supporter of them, but said it's more for the kids than the coaches.

"I don't put a lot of stock into them," Organ said. "We always try to do something to give them a little bit of excitement towards the last week of camp in the dog days of summer. As hot as it's been they've been picking up their play a little bit because they know (the 7-on-7) is on the horizon."

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