LOMBARD – As the Red Grange Classic started, Montini football coach Chris Andriano said 7-on-7 football doesn’t mean anything when it comes to real football.
Andriano probably hasn’t changed his mind, but maybe he’s hoping he’s wrong after the Broncos won the 24-team tournament loaded with the best programs in the state.
Montini, sparked by offensive MVP Tyler Tumpane and defensive MVP Nile Sykes, won the two-day tournament with a 10-2 record. The title means the Broncos qualified for the National Select 7-on-7 Championships from July 24 to 26 in Hoover, Ala.
Despite the fact that Andriano wouldn’t put stock into 7-on-7 in terms of evaluating his team, he admits it has its purpose.
“It does have value for learning purposes for your offense and your defense,” Andriano said. “You get to work on timing with your quarterbacks and receivers. They get a better understanding of routes and how the whole pattern is put together.
“Your defensive guys have to know their responsibilities. I like it because you have to think and the speed of the game is there.”
Sykes displayed his impressive speed for a player his size – 6-foot-1, 219 pounds – and showed why he already has college offers from major Division I programs. Sykes, who will play linebacker this fall, relished the opportunity to show off his ability in a competitive setting during the summer.
“You get to compete in the summer because obviously we can’t compete in full pads,” Sykes said. “It’s nice to see some of the competition and get reps with your team.”
Other local teams are competing in 7-on-7s to freshen up the summer schedule. Addison Trail will host Willowbrook and the rest of the West Suburban Conference for a 7-on-7 tournament Thursday. Glenbard East already has taken part in a few 7-on-7s and has two more scheduled in July.
Summer competition isn’t just for skill players either. Linemen challenges provide strength-based events such as truck pull and tug of war among others to give them something to look forward to, as well.
“With today’s kids, everything is about playing,” said Glenbard East coach John Walters. “One of the toughest things is to practice. Football is a practice sport. You have to put in four practices during the week before you get to a game.”