Chargers do the most extra reps in final 7v7 scrums
PITTSBORO — We’re just over a month away from Northwood’s season opener with Lee County on Aug. 19, but the Chargers aren’t waiting for the Yellow Jackets to come to town to take the grill.
Last week, Northwood hosted a pair of 7-on-7 scrimmage events, allowing Chargers players to test their skills against schools across the region and giving coaches a preview of their teams well before the season kicks off. .
“I thought everything went well, it was good to see the guys competing against students in other uniforms,” Chargers head coach Chris Kenan told News+Record. “It was a good first look for our guys. That just gives us a measuring stick before we get into the nitty-gritty of summer.
Among their June 28 opponents were the Clayton Comets and Fuquay-Varina Bengals, followed by the Pinecrest Patriots, Northern Durham Knights, Cary Imps and Bengals last Thursday.
Unlike normal organized games, 7v7 games are exactly what you’d expect: seven players from each team compete against each other.
Matches last 21 minutes, with each attack starting at the 40-yard line equipped with four tries to try and get a first down – which, unlike typical football, is 20 yards from the original line of scrimmage instead of 10 – and then receive four more tries to score a touchdown.
On offense, teams are allowed to have six eligible players — a quarterback and five skill positions, usually running backs or wide receivers — plus an additional ineligible player who has a habit of breaking the ball. In defense, teams can have seven talented players to defend.
While 7v7 games are very different from your average 11v11 contest, Kenan said they still offer value in determining benchmarks and assessing talent.
“We’re using it as a time to practice our covers and our quick game and some of our passing games that we’ll be using mixed in with our running game,” Kenan said. “I think we finished 2-2 (last Thursday). We don’t value those 7-on-7 results that much. … It was just good to see guys early in the setup using it in a competition.
Northwood’s five opponents last week were all in the NCHSAA’s 4A rankings, a step above the Chargers at 3A. This may have had an impact on the final results, with Northwood being forced to play against schools bigger than him, but Kenan said his team facing tough competition in pre-season was the best way to get through. to improve.
“It’s just good to see our guys progressing and picking up some skills as the summer starts to kick in,” Kenan said. “I thought our guys got better from Tuesday to Thursday. We have a mantra, “Improve 1% every day”, and watching the tape from Tuesday to Thursday our guys are going faster, you can tell they understand better. They asked questions after Tuesday’s games to better understand Thursday and it shows in their play.
“The quarterbacks struggled to read the covers on Tuesday and then Thursday they came back and played a little bit better,” Kenan said. “Not all the time to my liking, but they saw some things that were missing Tuesday that we saw them hit Thursday in the movie.”
Last week marked the first time in the entire offseason that Northwood also had nearly every player in attendance.
Despite missing a few notable players due to other workouts, the Chargers dressed 25 players last Thursday, or about 80% of the team’s total roster.
It was a far cry from a few weeks ago, when the Chargers spent a day crossing the Triangle – for 7-on-7 games at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan Stadium and NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium. – with only 12 players. .
“When we went to UNC and NC State, we went with 12 people and it was nothing like what we had (last) week,” Kenan said. “(Last week) we had double what we used to have. Some chemistry has to take place and we’re going to have to get used to it playing together, but I’m confident in this group that they’re coming.
Northwood faced competitors like Richmond, Heritage (Virginia) and Page at UNC before noon, then traveled to Raleigh where they faced Corinth Holders, Overhills and Sanderson, which was cut short in the afternoon in due to storms.
In total, with just 12 players capable of taking the field, the Chargers played six games in one day at two of the state’s most iconic football venues.
“It was a great vibe that the guys stood up for even though we were understaffed,” Kenan said. “The guys were ready for the test.”
It was a test of resilience, Kenan said, and his team passed it with flying colors.
“They didn’t back down and that taught me a lot about my team,” Kenan said. “I know the guys were tired and we were shorthanded, but winning the first and winning the last, I thought told me a lot about my team and the core of guys. You can’t ask for much more going through schedules like that with 12 guys on a hot day on the grass. … They never complained. They did it with a smile on their faces.
All of Northwood’s off-season practices and scrimmages so far, albeit not at full strength, have Kenan excited about what he sees heading into his first season as head coach of the Loads.
“It’s just the competitive nature and the competitive spirit of the guys. You’re going to have to beat them every time,” Kenan said. “It’s awesome to see the guys competing every day, every rehearsal.”
As the sporting dead period approaches, however – which lasts from July 4-17 – there are still many things the team needs to clean up, as well as crucial decisions that still need to be made by the coaching staff.
Namely, the team’s starting quarterback.
“We have one of the hottest quarterback battles in the state right now between [junior] Carson Fortune and [senior] Will Smith,” Kenan said. “They have to fight, literally, with every snap. A guy takes out a drive, he is lively and goes down to score. The next guy throws a pickaxe, but doesn’t tuck his tail in and comes back and throws darts. It’s just an everyday battle.
When asked if he leans more toward either quarterback candidate, his answer is simple: No.
“It’s a rep-by-rep basis, you never know,” Kenan said. “You close your eyes and you won’t know which one it is right now. No one took off and owned the job the way I wanted.
For Kenan, one thing is certain, though: This Chargers team has a “bounce back season” — from last year’s 4-6 finish — written all over it.
“It’s exciting to see. We have a lot of options, and those are good options to have… just seeing guys emerge on different drives and fighting for that ball and fighting for that right and winning it all,” Kenan said. “We have guys who may not have big names yet, but the state will know in December.”
Journalist Victor Hensley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Frezeal33.