Now that more teams are throwing the ball out of the spread offense instead of keeping it on the ground with the triple option, 7-on-7 tournaments are starting to become a hotbed for offseason training and college recruiting.
McEachern will be hosting its annual 7-on-7 tournament Wednesday with 23 additional teams coming to campus. The tournament starts at 9 a.m. and will be completed in one day.
“It’s a tired day,” said Van Spence, McEachern offensive coordinator and organizer of the event. “The kids are going to be worn, slap out.”
The Indians, who made a deep state playoff run to the semifinals in Class AAAAAA, will welcome Region 4AAAAAA rivals Hillgrove, Harrison and Kennesaw Mountain along with east Cobb rivals Kell and Wheeler. Griffin, the Class AAAA state champion and Region 8AAAAAA champion Archer are also scheduled to compete.
Teams will be divided into three pools of eight with each one guaranteed six games. Games will be played all day and the top two teams from each pool will qualify for the main bracket, which will begin late in the afternoon.
McEachern, Kell and Archer will battle it out in Pool A. Harrison and Hillgrove are in Pool B with Griffin and Wheeler and Kennesaw Mountain are in Pool C.
“Obviously, the passing game has become more and more with the spread offense and better training so people are putting more importance (into 7-on-7s),” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “There will be lots of opportunities out there and kids are wanting to show their stuff.”
Hockman also said 7-on-7 are great opportunities for quarterbacks and receivers to learn each other as well as the playbook and opposing defenses before the regular season starts in late August.
Although Hockman said McEachern doesn’t put much emphasis on 7-on-7 training, it will allow his veterans and up-and-coming players to keep getting acclimated.
Rising sophomore quarterback Bailey Hockman is acclimating himself into the role after playing sparingly last year late in the regular season and in the playoffs. He will likely continue to mesh with upcoming senior receiver T.J. Rahming and senior running back Taj Griffin, an Oregon commitment.
“We try not to overprioritize it, but it’s important to compete,” Hockman said. “We will play a lot of players and this a good way to keep teams together and out of trouble.”
Other teams will also have a chance to see what they have.
Hillgrove is in the process of finding a new quarterback and receivers after Elijah Ironside and three starting receivers graduated from last year’s team.
Although Cameron Rosendahl has experience on varsity, he’s being developed into Kell’s full-time starter after splitting time with Matt McGuigan last year.
Wheeler quarterback Ryles Kirkland started the latter half of last season after Elijah Staley, now playing for Mississippi State, was dismissed from the team
Harrison, meanwhile, is grooming dual-threat quarterback Lorenzo Nunez to have a strong senior campaign. The South Carolina commitment is expected to surpass his 1,148 passing yards and 786 rushing yards last season.