WHEATON – This summer’s 7-on-7 competitions hold a little extra importance for Wheaton North quarterback Clayton Thorson.
After breaking his collarbone in the Falcons’ second-round playoff game last fall, the incoming senior has made his much-awaited return to the field. In addition to working out kinks, Thorson also is getting acclimated to virtually an entirely new cast of offensive characters, aside from wide receiver Matt Biegalski.
“It’s good to get out there and go against other competition,” the Northwestern recruit said. “Obviously there are no linemen and such but you can go out there and throw the ball around.
“You can work on your timing and everything and get that really honed down. And you can work on footwork and routes.”
Matching up against other teams, many of whom won’t be on the regular-season schedule, holds obvious attractions.
“It is fun to go against other teams other than your own defense which knows all of your plays,” Thorson said. “At the same time, when we go against our own defense, we know their tendencies, too. It’s great practice.”
In 7-on-7 events, offensive linemen and running plays aren’t used. But vertical passing is nothing new to the Falcons, who are one of the many teams that employ a spread offense.
“We are used to it so we are not changing much up,” said Biegalski, who is receiving Division I interest. “It’s more so about getting comfortable with our offense in a gamelike mode. We can run a lot of different routes and put guys in different positions. And we are able to do the no-huddle out there which we’ve worked on in practice.”
Additionally, just getting out of the daily routine of summer camp is a positive.
“Summer camp can turn into a grind if you don’t get the chance to compete against other teams,” Wheaton North Joe Wardynski said. “The 7-on-7s gives us a chance to do that.”
The fact that the Falcons have many open positions heading into the 2013 campaign adds more importance.
“We are in a situation where we are only returning a couple of starters,” the coach said “So we are trying to identify kids who can play. Right now we are giving everyone reps; it’s camp. Then when we get to doubles, we can set our depth chart.”
The passing-heavy 7-on-7 events aren’t limited to offensive focus. The benefits extend over to the defensive side of the ball.
“In today’s high school game, almost everyone is throwing the ball around,” Wardynski said. “Doing this stuff is good for us. We can put in all of our coverages and can see which kids can do it and which kids can’t.”