The school year is out and many students are enjoying summer break.
Addison Trail's football team is spending the summer getting ready for the season.
This summer, AT coach Paul Parpet Jr. sent the Blazers to compete in the 32-team Red Grange Classic at Wheaton Warrenville South. The 7-on-7 tournament features a competitive atmosphere, something that isn't that easy to find in the summer.
The Blazers went 2-3 in pool play on June 26 with wins against Schaumburg and Metea Valley. In bracket play the following day, the Blazers beat Niles West and Bartlett and lost to host Wheaton Warrenville South and Desoto Central (Miss.).
"We did how I anticipated with the skill kids that we got coming back," Parpet said. "I think we competed at a very high level and did some nice things. I think when it's all said and done we need to remember the five most important guys [the linemen] weren't there. If we can get four seconds to throw every time we can be dangerous."
Without linemen, quarterbacks are forced to throw within four seconds at 7-on-7 events. Mike Rybarczyk was able to hit receivers Jaavion Bradley and Jake Atiyeh regularly. Atiyeh especially impressed Parpet.
"I know he's a competitor and I know he's a gamer, but he had some phenomenal catches," Parpet said of Atiyeh.
Playing in a competitive environment for a 7-on-7 was something new for the Blazers. The level of competition stood out as the 32 teams in the field combined for 10 state titles and 14 title game appearances since 2010.
"I think there was a lot of positives to it, but I can see a lot of negatives to it if you can't compete at that level because there's a lot of good football teams there," Parpet said. "I think it was exactly what our players needed. They needed some type of competition. I thought it came at the right time."
On the defensive side, the Blazers had a younger unit, but overall it was clear that team speed, which plays a huge factor in 7-on-7 football, is a strength for AT.
"We definitely were a lot faster," Parpet said. "Our overall team speed is above average. That's probably the thing in the first two weeks of summer camp and the two days at Wheaton Warrenville that stood our for our team. That's what we need."
The speed and skill of senior returners Bradley and Atiyeh will be key for AT, but Parpet is also focused on getting the team to play well in the trenches. He complimented the progress of his offensive linemen through summer practices and also emphasized the importance of being able to run the ball well so defenses can't focus on shutting down the receiving corps like last season.
"Those five guys we have on offense and those guys we have on the defensive line are going to make or break our season," Parpet said. "We're emphasizing our run game."
The Blazers return to 7-on-7 action next Thursday when they host the West Suburban Conference 7-on-7. Two days later they will head to an event hosted by Downers Grove South.
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