A trio of local football teams will play in Thursday’s New England 7v7 Championship at Xaverian High School in Westwood. The 7v7 squads from Classical, English and Bishop Fenwick were each invited to play in the New England tournament after strong showings Sunday in the Northeast tournament at St. John’s Prep.
English went the furthest of three local teams, falling to Buckingham Browne and Nichols in the Northeast semifinals. English lost the game on the final play, when BB&N scored for a 14-13 win. BB&N went on to win the Northeast championship with a 24-0 victory over Milton.
“I like how much we’re competing,” English coach Chris Carroll said. “The kids want to win. They’re playing at a high level. We have some guys returning who are used to winning now. I like the way they’re competing. I like the way they’re working together. They’re having a good summer so far.”
The Crusaders also fell to BB&N in the quarterfinals. Fenwick defeated Pope John in the Round of 16.
“It’s a good way for them to get out, work on a little timing, work on their relationships between quarterbacks and wide receivers,” Fenwick coach Dave Woods said. “It’s good for guys to compete and have some fun.
“It’s a good way for the kids to get out and play football while working on chemistry,” Woods added. “What I like about it is we leave things up to the kids. You see some leadership emerge. You see the kids look to each other as opposed to the coaches.”
Classical took down Burlington in the Round of 16 before falling to Masconomet in the quarterfinals.
For English, success in 7v7 tournament has become a norm as of late. The Bulldogs won a 7v7 tournament at Framingham State earlier this summer. Although the game changes when they put their pads on, the Bulldogs like the momentum they’ve built heading into the upcoming preseason.
“We won the Framingham State 7v7 shootout in June,” Carroll said. “We went 7-0 in that one with 20 teams. Competing in this one, we did very good among 40 teams. It definitely carries over. The kids expect to win when they’re on the field. It’s good for certain things but the season’s different. There are things you can carry over but there are things you change when you put the pads on.”
English has made the most of its opportunity to tweak its passing offense, along with getting an early look at its pass-coverage on defense. Top performers for English include quarterback Matt Severance and wide receivers Prince Brown, Mathias Fowler, Nick Bates and Jadiel Tejada.
“It gets the kids out there, competing against other schools,” Carroll said. “That’s the most important thing, working together. It allows you to work on your passing offense. The kids understand it and learn it. It helps them further their game in the summertime. On defense it allows you to work on your passing defense. The kids grasp the concepts and they work on them.”
Fenwick struggled with a young roster last fall but a strong early start in 7v7 has helped the Crusaders gain confidence throughout the summer. Fenwick’s top performers include quarterback Cory Bright and receivers Stefano Fabiano, George Fiskatoris and Derek DelVecchio.
Woods has seen 7v7 evolve over recent years and points to the rise in popularity of the spread offense as the main reason.
“The spread came around in the early 2000’s,” Woods said. “Almost everyone had gone to the spread by 2010. It’s a good way to work on spacing and route combinations. It’s picked up as more teams have picked up the spread.”
Woods feels the Crusaders are the underdogs among the list of Thursday’s team. In addition to Fenwick, English and Classical, the 10 teams competing include Barnstable, BB&N, Dennis-Yarmouth, Greenwich (CT), Masconomet, Milton and Suffield Academy (CT).
“I saw the list of teams and the pool we’re in, and I’d say we’re the underdog for sure,” Woods said. “Our kids are excited about playing some really good teams. We play Suffield and English. It’s going to be fun to see how we stack up against some really good teams.”
Thursday’s tournament begins at 4 p.m. Fenwick and English open the tournament with a Pool 1 game against one another at 4 p.m. Classical’s first game is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. against Milton in Pool 2. The top two teams from each pool advance to the semifinals and the tournament final is scheduled for 8:40 p.m.