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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette Carroll plays against New Haven on Wednesday afternoon during the OPS Summit City 7v7 Shootout at Homestead. Sixteen area teams participated in the event, which was cut short by the weather.

  • Churubusco players gather around and get some guidance. The Shootout is the first chance coaches get to see teams in action.

  • Carroll football player Ray Vollmer practices catching the ball during the tournament at Homestead on Wednesday. There is no running game in the 7-on-7 format, so pass-catching is an important facet of the competition.

Thursday, June 20, 2019 1:00 am

Weather doesn't dampen shootout

Coaches savor getting to see new squads in action

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

In 7-on-7 football, the defense can be sure a pass is coming its way. But summer weather is tricky to gauge and much more difficult to defend against. 

The third annual OPS Summit City 7v7 Shootout was called off early because of rain and thunderstorms in the area Wednesday afternoon, after most of the 16 teams at Homestead had only completed two of their three pool-play games. The bracket-style playoff, which was scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m., did not begin because of a poor forecast for the rest of the afternoon and evening. 

Despite the shortened day, coaches did have the opportunity to see many of their players in true competition mode for the first time this season. 

“We're actually pretty young across the board – quarterback is one position,” Concordia coach Tim Mannigel said, referring to rising junior Brandon Davis, who is poised to fill the shoes of recent graduate Jake Byrd. “We'll probably have up to seven new players on defense playing. At this point, we only have seven seniors in the program. So there are a lot of new kids across the board, and that's where things like the event today are good for us.”

The Cadets got in reps against DeKalb and Carroll in Pool B of the Large School Division, beating the Barons 20-0, but struggling against the Chargers. 

“I thought Brandon threw the ball well at quarterback, I thought we made some catches at receiver. We're expecting big things out of our receiving corps, that's a group that brings back a lot of experience,” Mannigel said. “Defensively, we have a ways to go yet. But we've had two practices, not much time for install. ... We tend to celebrate the good in these events and don't worry so much about the bad, because we understand we have a ways to go.”

South Adams coach Grant Moser called the tournament “one of the best experiences of the summer.”

“You're going to be rusty, it's still June, you're going to see a lot of mistakes,” Moser said. “The big thing I like seeing is, 'Do we have energy?' Our guys get excited, and they have fun playing, and they get excited for one another more than anything. So without being selfish, it's about having fun and seeing how we gel together as a team.”

The host Spartans did not run into much trouble in their abbreviated tournament, beating Columbia City 21-0 and East Noble 27-7. 

“We had a few kids who kind of surprised us, and I'm thinking, OK, these kids can help us on Fridays,” Homestead coach Chad Zolman said. 

The 7-on-7 format leaves out linemen and the running game. Zolman said that can even introduce bad habits in defensive players if they're not careful. 

“It's good for quarterbacks and receivers, and for a defense that knows the pass is coming,” Zolman said. “For the most part, it's a DB-, receiver-, quarterback-type thing that is really good. For the rest of them, it's not truly what's going to happen on a Friday night. Honestly some of the linebackers can develop bad habits, instead of reading run versus pass, so you have to be careful with it. But at the same time, I think it's valuable, especially for the young kids getting first-time action against other varsity squads.”

Zolman said he was sorry his team and the rest of the field didn't get to finish out the day as planned. 

“As a participant, which we are once everything starts, it's disappointing for sure,” Zolman said. “You walk into these things thinking we want to play well and see where we're at. But we also want to walk out of here with everyone healthy and in good shape, and we did.

“Everybody got two games in today, and I know it's not what everyone's looking for but it's still a worthwhile experience.”

vjacobsen@jg.net