Rising Role of 7-on-7 Football Eats Into HS Offseason

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — While the high school football season is still a couple of months away, the term “offseason” no longer exists in the vocabulary of many programs.

And a smaller version of football is playing a bigger role in preparing for the fall.

“Today is about correcting some mistakes,” Heritage high school head coach Brad Bradley said. “Learning our coverages. Catching the football. Getting time in on our routes.”

Bradley doesn’t like to waste time. Months after coaching Heritage to a state title, the Pioneers are getting work in by hosting five other schools for a day of 7-on-7 scrimmages.

“7-on-7 it’s just like another practice for me,” Heritage rising senior safety Kyron Thomas said. “You get to work on all your techniques and everything, but when game time comes you have to be perfect, A1 on everything.”

While 7-on-7 football is a common offseason activity, its significance has grown as football teams try to find an edge over the competition, becoming a second season for programs like Heritage.

The Pioneers started 7-on-7 work on June 3rd and will travel to GW-Danville for another series of scrimmages on Thursday.

Heritage football coach Brad Bradley directs his team during a 7-on-7 scrimmage in Lynchburg Tuesday.

“And it’s a grind. It is a 100 percent grind,” Bradley said. “If you’re not doing 7on7s or if you’re not doing one day camps with your kids, if you’re not doing those things right now, you’re getting left behind.”

And the hope for all of these teams is to have the work put in on a Tuesday afternoon in June pay off on a Friday night in the fall.

“It doesn’t matter if we are running ten yard sprints or playing 7-on-7 against another team,” William Fleming head coach Jamar Lovelace said. “Anytime they’re keeping any type of score, we want to make sure we learn how to compete.”

William Fleming head coach Jamar Lovelace.

Lovelace looks to turn his Colonels around after a one-win season in 2018. And 7-on-7 provides a head start for his players competing for time on the field.

“We’re watching guys how they cheer for each other in the sideline, what kind of body language and demeanor they have,” Lovelace said. “So we’re watching kind of everything our guys are doing and we’re learning to cheer each other on as well.”

Players preparing to suit up by stripping the game of football down.

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