Briarwood, Montevallo, Helena compete in 7-on-7

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HELENA – At the midway point of July, the 2019 football season is now right around a month away from kicking off, which means grueling summer workouts will soon turn to cooler, fall Friday nights, but for the time being, teams are prepping for the season the best way they can—through 7-on-7 events.

While 7-on-7 tournaments are controversial as to whether or not you can actually learn anything, most coaches will tell you it depends on the type of event, and on Thursday, July 11, the Helena Huskies hosted a friendly 7-on-7 featuring the likes of Briarwood and Montevallo locally, as well as other teams such as Childersburg, Fultondale, Leeds and Springville.

“It’s set up to be just a laid back event,” Helena head coach Richie Busby said. “We aren’t competing in a tournament or anything like that, but just getting together to get everybody reps.”

Finding the right fit of coaches that want the benefit of reps versus trying to win every game is what Briarwood head coach Matthew Forester looks for when trying to find the right event.

“Getting like-minded coaches that have the same goal in mind as you is what makes a 7-on-7 event successful,” Forester said. “We’re not going to try and win a tournament. We’re going to do what we do during the season and try to work on it, not try different things just to win a 7-on-7. The main goal is to fine-tune what we need to run when everybody is out there.”

To this point in the summer, all three local teams competing in the tournament have had that same mindset, but have also competed extremely well.

Helena went to the finals of a tournament at Birmingham-Southern College, Montevallo went to the semifinals of the Cam Newton 7-on-7 and Briarwood has played extremely well in several events also.

Each event is adding more reps for teams as the season inches closer, giving them more confidence in the aspects of the game they need to work on.

“We carried 52 skill kids to that Birmingham-Southern 7-on-7, so our numbers are great right now,” Busby said. “That’s good from the standpoint that a lot of our kids are getting some reps.”

The Huskies participated in two 7-on-7 events during the week of July 8, going to Samford on Tuesday for a big tournament and then hosting the event with Briarwood and Montevallo.

“We’re just trying to get a lot of reps in,” Busby said. “We’re even playing in some with our ninth grade and JV teams as well, just to try to get them some time and experience.”

For coach Forester, heading into his first season as head coach, he’s getting a chance to feel out his team after spending the last several years as defensive coordinator for the Lions.

“Being a defensive coach and coaching linebackers, it’s super nice because I can spend all summer getting my pass coverages in,” Forester said. “So I actually enjoy 7-on-7.

“It signifies that we are close to the season and that’s exciting. We know we’ve still got stuff to work on and can get better in our coverages, and we’re installing new stuff offensively, so we can experiment and see what we like and how it fits together. So for us, we really need it.”

With All-Sports week coming up the week of July 15, teams will take a slight break, and then it’s here. Teams will then have one more week of summer workouts, a week off and then fall practice will start with just three weeks until the first game of 2019.