ELMHURST – It’s not perfect, but it is fun.
Not all coaches are fond of 7-on-7 football, but players seem to love it. It breaks up the grind of summer practices and is effective at teaching certain skills, like route-running and offensive chemistry.
“The kids love it more than the coaches I think,” IC Catholic coach Bill Krefft said. “I think it’s beneficial. It’s not 100-percent perfect, and I don’t expect it to be.”
Krefft’s reservations stem from the potential bad habits on the defensive side. The lack of actual tackling, players are downed by touch, changes the way players approach the point of contact.
On top of that, both Elmhurst football teams, IC and York, use run-heavy offenses so mandatory passing isn’t the most efficient practice for those teams. As a result, neither team competes in numerous 7-on-7s. The Knights haven’t started summer camp yet and the Dukes scheduled two 7-on-7s for the summer.
However, there’s value from participating. Defenses see different looks than what they see in practice.
“I like 7-on-7s because then you get to see some of the other competition from around the area,” York senior linebacker Joe Helton said. “I really like going up against passing rather than running.”
York already took part in a 7-on-7 at Prospect and has one more scheduled for July 11. Addison Trail will host the West Suburban Conference event so familiar teams can go head to head in the summer.
“I think it’s more fun going against teams we’re actually going to play during the season as opposed to playing teams like Prospect, some of those random ones,” York senior cornerback Ted Harrold said. “I like seeing the actual competition we’re going to be seeing during the year.”
York coach Steve Nye singled out competition as the best aspect of 7-on-7. Summer practices are great for conditioning, strength and learning plays, but they don’t test players in pressure situations.
Seeing the cream rise up during live action football, even if a modified version, is something for which Nye watches closely.
“That’s really what you find out about is how they compete and how they react going against someone different,” Nye said. “They get sick of hitting each other and playing against each other.”