DOWNERS GROVE – There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Downers Grove North’s football team running the ball.
The Trojans’ bread and butter under head coach John Wander has been the option offense. But in an age where passing the football is in vogue, even North gets something out of the 7-on-7 passing events.
“I’ve always believed that’s where your secondary and linebackers learn a lot, and you do have to throw the ball sometimes (in the option),” Wander said. “It’s not a lot of play action (at a 7-on-7), but we do what we can do.”
In the final week of June, Wander and the Trojans were holding offseason practices but had yet to participate in any 7-on-7 events. When quarterback David Edwards returns from a trip to Europe, North will load up on the passing events later in the summer.
Downers Grove South runs a more balanced offense, and so the passing events are a benefit to the Mustangs. The 7-on-7s are even more critical with two quarterbacks — juniors Jordan Skach and Jacob Baker – competing for the job as starter.
“We’ve got two kids competing at QB right now, and the sophomore coverages and varsity coverages are going to be a lot different, so they’re definitely getting a chance to see some different things,” South coach Mark Molinari said. “At the West Suburban 7-on-7 (July 11) we’ll see some defenses that we’ll probably see during the season, so that definitely helps them.”
From a player’s perspective, even the approximation of football at a 7-on-7 helps prepare for the season.
“It definitely helps with reads and getting to know your receivers and the routes and stuff like that,” Skach said.
Like North, South has most of its 7-on-7s planned for later in the summer. The Mustangs competed against Lemont in a 7-on-7 June 20, but the week after the Fourth of July will be loaded with passing events.
Even though the 7-on-7 events have no running plays, no linemen and no pass rush, they do allow teams to compete in something more than intrasquad scrimmages during summer. They also give the coaches a better idea of what kind of talent is on the roster before preseason practices start in August.
“We’re not allowed to go 11-on-11 against another team, so 7-on-7s are really our only chance to compete against somebody else,” Molinari said. “We put ourselves in different situations on the field and run some of our different schemes, so we see how the kids react to that. And for the offense it’s good because we get some scenarios that are game-like speed, and even though we’re not going to have any linemen in front of us, we’re going to see some different coverages. It can be a good teaching tool.”