Riverside-Brookfield High School head football coach Brendan Curtin believes that 7-on-7 summer scrimmages provide assorted benefits for any team. Of course, he’s also well aware that non-contact football in helmets, T-shirts and shorts is a far cry from the rigors of a typical hard-hitting, physical high school football game.
“I think any coach will tell you there’s certainly a need for 7-on-7,” Curtin said. “I think it helps in the sense you’re getting kids competitive reps just to make sure they know their assignments and where to align on the field. From an offensive perspective, it’s also good because we can coach up our players on the field and be right there in the huddles with them.
“Not too many defensive coordinators like 7-on-7 as the game is catered to the offense and there’s no pass rush. Ultimately, I think both sides of the ball can walk away from 7-on-7 games with some aspects of football to work on moving forward. Of course, there’s only so much stock you can put into playing football in t-shirts and shorts.
One tangential aspect of 7-on-7 Curtin isn’t a fan of is the occasional mercenary team you’ll see sprout up on TV.
“7-on-7 has turned a bit like AAU basketball which is a shame,” Curtin said. “You’re seeing some of these teams on ESPN and they are like glorified all-star teams. When you get some kids blowing off their high school team to play on a glorified 7-on-7 team, I don’t think it’s a good thing.”
RBHS hosted a 7-on-7 scrimmage against Willowbrook at Shuey Stadium last week. A typical 7-on-7 game involves each team taking either 10 reps or 10 minutes offensively and then switching roles with the opponent (offense to defense) on multiple occasions during a workout. The offense typically includes a quarterback, running back (optional), three or four wide receivers and a snapper. Defensively, the seven players include a mix of defensive backs, safeties and linebackers. Players wear helmets, jerseys and shorts. There are no pass rushers either, although each play is timed.
In addition to the 7-on-7 scrimmage, RBHS and Willowbrook also engaged in some offensive linemen challenges and drills as well as on 5-on-5 inside running drills.
“I though the workout went well,” Curtin said about the Willowbrook matchup. “7-on-7 is strictly for evaluation purposes. We want our kids to play hard and win every play, but we’re not looking for any 7-on-7 titles. It’s another useful way for us to prepare for the regular season.”
The 7-on-7 scrimmages comprise just one minor part of the Bulldogs’ offseason development. Under Curtin, RBHS is constantly looking for ways to improve via weightlifting, film sessions, summer camps, and even an annual summer workout with the U.S. Marines.
“I think we’re progressing quite well,” Curtin said. “The guys are working hard and doing what’s asked of them by the coaches.”
Offensively, the Bulldogs return a cadre of offensive threats including quarterback Ryan Swift, running backs Brian Kulaga and Adolfo Linares along with wide receivers Dean Zigulich, Antone Dixon, Mike McCabe and Matt Chapp and tight end Kyle Tracy. Linebacker David Pribyl Pierdinock has emerged as a leader on the other side of the ball.