LEMONT – At first glance, Lemont football doesn’t have much in common with the 7-on-7 summer competitions that have become so popular.
The offense that helped turn the Indians into a football powerhouse is centered on running the football and play-action passes. Neither are staples of the 7-on-7 events, which feature all passing plays and no offensive linemen.
That doesn’t mean head coach Eric Michaelsen and the Indians don’t get anything out of the events that are popping up all over Illinois.
“We get to compete,” said Michaelsen, who added that Lemont was doing three all-day competitions this summer and four or five smaller ones. “We can see how the kids compete and see how the kids act in stressful situations and in situations where they need to be coached.”
Lemont has participated in 7-on-7s during Michaelsen’s 11-year tenure as coach, but he agrees they have become more prevalent.
“Part of it is there are more teams with wide-open offenses,” he said. “And the other part of it, when everybody is doing it, it’s a ‘we better be doing it’ kind of thing.”
This summer, the Indians have only one returning starter on offense and four on defense, so these experiences are valuable learning tools.
“I think they are really fun,” said senior wide receiver Matt Monaco, “and they are a good opportunity for the younger kids, and the older kids for that matter, to get good practice against different offenses and defenses and against people you are not practicing against every day.”
Lemont also gets to see teams they don’t normally play during the regular season. At the recent Joliet 7-on-7, the Indians went up against Sandburg and Bloomington.
“We get to see looks out of defenses that we don’t normally see in our conference,” Monaco said. “And we go against bigger schools who have good athletes on their team. It’s a chance to get some good practice in.”
The 7-on-7s also provide a distraction from the daily grind of summer camp.
“It’s a way to break things up for us,” Michaelsen said. “We work the kids really hard, and the 7-on-7s are a change of pace.”