DENVER — There are no shoulder pads, no pants just shorts, no offensive or defensive lines, no running plays and no rushing the quarterback.
It’s two-hand touch. Defenses score three points for every interception and touchdowns are worth seven points with no extra points involved.
It’s flag football without the flags.
But the second annual Denver Broncos’ 7-on-7 tournament held last week at All City Stadium and culminated June 23 with the finals at the team’s Dove Valley headquarters is more than just that. It’s about the 50 high school football teams who attended this year’s event preparing for the 2012 season.
And though there are only roughly 10-20 players per teams and the game is one-dimensional the mindset is still the same, Columbine coach Andy Lowry said.
“It’s the same mindset. It’s just stepping up and competing. It doesn’t matter what you’re playing be it 1-on-1 basketball, 3-on-3 basketball or here, you’re stepping up and competing and learning how to play at this speed,” Lowry said. “You have to make plays.”
And catch the ball. Every time.
Everything in 7-on-7 is predicated by the passing game. So each pass, each reception or drop is that much more magnified.
“It’s very important. Every catch counts. Every one dropped ball can lose you a game,” Chatfield senior receiver Larry Huff said.
Bottom line, all 7-on-7s in the summer are about learning and getting experience before the season, Chatfield senior quarterback Mason Brozovich said.
“We were a little off our timing,” Brozovich said after Chatfield sandwiched a 21-14 loss to Montbello between victories over Alameda (37-7) and The Academy (27-0). “We didn’t execute early and that’s what killed us in the end.”
But even in defeat, Chatfield, which won the Red Bull 7-on-7 tournament at Kennedy High School two weeks earlier, may have come out the victor, head coach Bret McGatlin said.
“I think for us you want to learn how to compete and you want to win,” McGatlin said. “This is such a great opportunity for us to get better. The biggest thing for us is even when you do lose it teaches the kids how did we lose and you try to learn from it. Sometimes losing out here is even better than winning. You can see where your mistakes and weaknesses are and work on those.”
It’s also a good opportunity, in the case of the defending 5A state champion Columbine Rebels, who are a run-first offense, to shore up the passing plays they do commonly utilize.
““Usually we don’t throw, but we do want to play defense and try to win the game,” said Columbine quarterback Michael Burns, who combined to throw for six touchdowns in pool play as the Rebels beat Sheridan (24-3), Falcon (10-7) and Mountain Range (17-7).
In other words, when Columbine does throw the ball in the regular season, Burns said, they’ll be ready for it. That’s what 7-on-7 is all about.