I want to talk about seven-on-seven.
No, dammit! Not a Roman orgy. I’m talking about that shorts-and-tees summer league passing game touch football stuff that high school players, coaches, fans and parents take way too seriously.
It can be fun. Throwing and catching a football under any conditions has been one of the abiding joys of my life. Yes, throwers and catchers (and defenders) get better through repetition. The “reps” involved in seven-on-seven have value. But fixating on winning these games does not, in my opinion, and in fact can be detrimental to high school football teams and programs.
Here’s what seven-on-seven football isn’t. Football. It bears not the slightest resemblance to football. So using it to gauge how good your team is or isn’t is bound to miss the mark. Guaranteed.
Nobody is trying to kill your quarterback. Nobody’s really even in his face. The only “pressure” he’s facing is from a benign official counting, “One Mississippi, Two Mississippi,” etc. That’s a little different from facing a sadistic jail-break blitz on a Friday night in September by seven guys who are not only trying to break you in half, but will talk about your mama after they do.
Receivers? Seven-on-seven is not receiving. Seven-on-seven is at least relatively safe. Receiving isn’t.
Pass defense? That is largely about whacking the bejabbers out of guys. That is (properly) “frowned upon” in seven-on-seven.
So it’s fun. Throw it. Catch it. Get better at throwing it and catching it. But here’s what I learned in ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. There were summers in which we were dominant at seven-on-seven. So we started to think we were pretty good. Until July turned into August and August turned into September and we faced the rude realization that we couldn’t play football. Conversely, we had teams that looked like F-Troop in seven-on-seven, but then beat the living hell out of folks in actual boys tackle football.
Skills developed in seven-on-seven matter. Winning doesn’t.
Now, go back to your orgy.