WHEATON – Summer football is a chance for high school teams to start forming as a unit and for individuals to start shining.
As teams enter into summer practices and 7-on-7 tournaments, players like Reggie Terrell Jr. get to show their talents against varsity athletes for the first time.
The Lyons Township sophomore moved up to the varsity team when the Lions went to Notre Dame for a 7-on-7 tournament in June and is already impressing LT's coaching staff.
"They took me to check me out and I did pretty good there so after that 7-on-7 they told me I would be on varsity," Terrell said. "Being a sophomore it's pretty fun, especially being my first 7-on-7."
While LT has been competing in 7-on-7 competitions, Riverside Brookfield has been hosting summer practices on its own four days a week and will compete at the Willowbrook 7-on-7 July 12.
The Bulldogs aren't travelling around the area as much to find external competition, but the biggest news out of RB this summer is that offensive lineman Louis Grigoletti committed to Central Michigan. Grigoletti will anchor RB's line in the newly formed Metro Suburban West.
As for other area teams, Morton started summer camp June 11 and has practices scheduled through July 24. Nazareth is in the middle of its six weeks of summer camp, with this week off for the Fourth of July. The Roadrunners will host own 7-on-7 events on July 9 and July 16 before having a team retreat to Illinois Wesleyan near the end of summer.
Naz has a talented roster, which has brought a buzz around summer practices.
"It's been challenging because this is the most in my career as far as guys that will playing at the next level," coach Tim Racki said. "It's been a challenge getting everybody here."
Decxavier Kelly-Martin, Jack Shutack, Kevin Jackson, Michael Owens and Neuqua Valley transfer Nolan Dean are among Nazareth's high level college prospects. With colleges encouraging them to come for visits and summer camps, it has taken bodies away from summer practices on occasion.
"It also creates a different set of problems with the expecations and the fact that all the other schools on our schedule are seeing the same stuff," Racki said. "It can work as a motivating factor for the opponent."
Terrell and the Lions also competed in the 32-team Red Grange Classic hosted by Wheaton Warrenville South. LT got off to a rocky start in pool play on Thursday, dropping all five of the 21-minute games against quality opposition, and later dropped both games in Friday's double elimination bracket.
However, wins and losses isn't the point of summer football. Coaches are just trying to discover what kind of personnel they have.
"We got two weeks under our belt so the [Red Grange Classic] is kind of our second big 7-on-7," LT coach Kurt Weinberg said. "We're just trying to build our team like everybody else. We're trying to compete and win."
While the skill players are competing in the 7-on-7, the linemen are having their own competitions. The Red Grange Classic provided a linemen challenge to get everyone on the team involved, perhaps other than kickers and punters. Further ahead on LT's schedule is the West Suburban Conference 7-on-7 tournament, which will take place July 10.
The Lions have quarterback Tommy Fiedler and running back Leonard Ross back, although running plays aren't allowed in 7-on-7. Terrell, a defensive back, played on the freshman team last year and is hoping to be another talented contributor.
"It's very tough because I'm used to sophomore speed," Terrell said. "Varsity is sped up. I got to push and it's kind of hard, but I think I can get there."
Getting used to the speed of varsity athletes isn't the only adjustment. The difference in style of 7-on-7 games is another thing Terrell is getting used to this summer.
"I think it's way faster than a real game because there's not that many guys, everyone is moving fast," Terrell said. "It's right off the bat plays, no huddles, it moves very fast."
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