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7-on-7 Impact: Tigers thrive on summer competition

WHEATON – Ron Muhitch remembers what 7-on-7 football competitions used to look like.

He’s watched them evolve as Wheaton Warrenville South’s head coach since 2002 and a Tigers assistant for years before that.

“You would go to the school and put the ball on the 40 and run a play and then come back to the same spot,” Muhitch said. “You would run 10 plays in a row. It was like a practice against another team. The problem with that is no competition.”

Now compare that with the 24-team Red Grange Classic the Tigers hosted during two days last week. Each squad played five round-robin games before a double-elimination tournament.

“Now we’ve got a 25-second (play) clock,” Muhitch said, “and the quarterback has four seconds to get rid of the ball and the defense can also score points.”

The event, along with the other 7-on-7 competitions throughout the summer, have become an important tool to get ready for the fall season.

“The biggest thing for us is learning to compete,” Muhitch said, “and also to teach our passing game and pass-defense game. When can you do that in the regular season? This is a great time to teach that.”

Muhitch said the spread offense is trending up, and many teams are currently working to get their timing down with the opening week of the 2013 season just two months away.

“It’s not very game-like but they are very fun and competitive,” said Wheaton Warrenville South quarterback Ryan Graham. “You get to work on your timing, wide receivers get to catch a lot of balls and quarterbacks get to read defenses. And defenses get to change things up.”

And while the 7-on-7 events are not a direct indicator of how teams will fare in the fall, they do act as a warm-up for what is to come.

“We play some of these teams (in the regular season) so it’s a great precursor for the season,” Graham said. “It gets everyone competing and it’s a good season warm-up for us. And it’s fun.”

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