PEABODY– The increasingly popular 7v7 football tournaments have worked to the benefit of local high school teams. While teams aren’t allowed to come together for practices until the middle of August, playing in 7v7 tournament allows them to get a leg up on the start of the season and gets players in the flow of things before the real action kicks off.
That has certainly been the case this summer for the Lynn English and Swampscott football teams, as both participated in yesterday’s Under Armour Northeast 7v7 New England Championship. The tournament, which took place at Bishop Fenwick, included teams from Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.
For English, the 7v7 tournaments provide the players a chance to play together and gain familiarity with one another moving into the upcoming training camp period.
“It offers our team an opportunity to get out and compete,” Bulldogs coach Chris Carroll said. “We’re a few weeks away from the start of camp and we’re able to get out here and compete. It allows us to learn how to play together. We’re working on our pass defense, our passing routes and our kids are leading the charge before the season starts.”
For Swampscott, 7v7 play allows the younger players on the team to get live reps in before the preseason kicks off.
“The 7v7 tournaments have gotten bigger and bigger every year,” Big Blue coach Rob Serino said. “There are more leagues around. There’s one in Peabody, one in Marblehead, one in Winchester. Younger kids get the opportunity to play and learn the passing game. All the quarterbacks and receivers get reps and the defenses learn their base coverage.”
It also helps both teams that the level of competition at the tournaments, especially Thursday evening’s championship, is top-notch. Serino and the Big Blue watched from the sidelines before they took the field and noticed the speed of the games had increased drastically when compared to last weekend’s regionals.
“Coming into this final, the speed has been turned up about five notches from where it was Saturday,” Serino said. “We watched two games before we played our first game and we said ‘wow the speed is a lot faster.’”
English’s Carroll said the high level of competition allows his team to learn how important it is to make key plays in order to earn a victory.
“It’s all three regions combined,” Carroll said. “At the end of the day we have to come out here and make plays. It’s very good competition. There’s a reason why every team is out here.”
Both coaches like what they’ve seen from their teams in 7v7 play. English has developed a solid pace of play on the offensive side of the ball, but has work to do on defense.
“Offensively, I think we’re moving the ball very well,” Carroll said. “I’ve noticed really good timing and great routes. Defensively, we have a lot of work to do.”
“I wish today went a little better but the good thing is the kids are out here competing,” Carroll added. “We’re out here getting better every day.”
Serino has seen his team gain motivation and confidence after strong showings in 7v7 tournaments. While the dog days in the weight room can become somewhat dull, working towards a common goal has driven the Big Blue this offseason.
“The great thing about it is workouts get old,” Serino said. “You get a big win and that gives us motivation when we’re lifting. We went 5-1 this weekend in the regional and Monday morning every player was in there lifting. It gives them a new life and something to strive for.”