In the summer, high school football coaches often look for ways to provide their players with a competitive challenge.
At Southeast Whitfield High School on Thursday afternoon, players from Gordon Central, Gordon Lee, Heritage, Murray County, North Murray, Northwest Whitfield, Sonoraville, Southeast Whitfield and Trion competed in 7-on-7 scrimmages and linemen challenges. This was the fifth consecutive year Southeast hosted the event, and Raiders coach Sean Gray said it went well.
"I thought the event went great," Gray said. "The linemen got a lot of good strong-man work in, working on their endurance and strength. Skill kids got a ton of reps (repetitions). You can never get enough reps in the summertime."
Each of the nine schools played four scrimmages of 7-on-7, without a bracketed format. The linemen for each school competed against one another in a multitude of strength and conditioning tests, including timed relays where players carried 85-pound dumbbells and another where they flipped a 400-pound tire 10 yards.
For the local teams, the scrimmages were another opportunity to get younger players reps against live competition. Despite moving away from a spread offense to a triple option attack for this fall, Murray County coach Chad Brewer said he still saw value in the competition. It was the third day in a row in which Northwest Whitfield competed in a 7-on-7 event. Giving rising freshmen, and likely starting quarterback Owen Brooker, as many looks as possible during the summer is clearly a priority for the Bruins.
Southeast will return senior Adam Sowder under center this fall. Gray said beyond quarterback, 7-on-7s are a great time for other players to learn as well.
"For our skill kids, learning cover 2 and cover 3, learning man technique, you can't get enough reps with that," Gray said. "This is when you work on things like spacing and alignment on the offensive side, too. Sometimes kids need to know they need to be further away or closer to another receiver to get themselves open. This is when you work on that."
The event was capped off by a tug-of-war battle between groups of offensive linemen from each school. Surrounded by the skill-position players, groups of five offensive linemen took turns pulling on the rope, hoping to out-muscle the opposing side. In the final matchup, Murray County faced off with Heritage with the Indians winning the event for the second year.
"The reason we do that is because on Friday night everyone sees the running backs, quarterbacks and receivers score touchdowns. They get all the glory," Gray said. "We wanted to put the focus on the linemen. We get everyone around them at the end, with everyone's eyes on them. They get to be in the spotlight for a little while and I think it's great for them."