Tigers preparing with their own take on 7-on-7

Posted Monday, Jul. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Texas state 7-on-7 football tournament was last weekend, and Mansfield High wasn’t there. They never intended to be. The Tigers take a much different approach to 7-on-7 than many schools, focusing internally rather than on external competition.

At the end of the school year, head coach Jeff Hulme and his two prospective quarterbacks got together for a draft. They molded two squads, and those two teams compete weekly against one another in a modified 7-on-7 competition.

“Really, we just play against ourselves all summer,” Hulme said. “A lot of that is just my personal feelings about 7-on-7; I’m just not a big proponent of it.

“I do see the value in going against each other and throwing the ball and catching the ball. I think that’s very important,” he added.

The weekly games are completely player-driven, which Hulme sees as a valuable opportunity for team leaders to emerge.

“I think it’s good because it gives the kids a chance to develop some leadership skills,” he said. “Plus, they need to get away from the coaches and do some stuff on their own and figure it out and improvise. Not everything is going to be scripted for them in a football game, so when they learn how to do that, they become a better athlete.”

The two quarterbacks directing the teams, Aaron Funk and Caleb Evans, are showing Hulme that they get the message. In addition to the games, they’re leading by example with the squad’s summer conditioning program.

“Aaron and Caleb both – every day that I’ve been up there for summer fitness – have been there every morning,” Hulme said. “I think, like a lot of things, if the linemen and receivers and backs and defensive lineman see your quarterbacks up there working hard and trying to get better, then they’re more apt to come there and work themselves.”

“We’re going to have a new quarterback next year, whichever one of those it is, and neither one of those has seen action on Friday nights before,” Hulme added. “The thing you’re hoping for is just some timing and camaraderie with the receivers and them getting to know each other. I think they’ve done a great job of that so far this summer. And we’ve still got a month before two-a-days starts, so there’s still more for them to do.”

With only two returning starters from each side of the ball, the Tigers will have plenty of new faces this season, including nine on defense. Hulme feels like the defensive players also benefit from their approach to 7-on-7.

“That’s what is important with your linebackers and secondary play is them working together,” he said. “Football is far from being an individual sport. You’ve got to rely on each other and if those secondary guys are working together as one, they’re getting better each and every day. Same thing with our linebackers.

“I just think we can get better by competing against ourselves and getting after it instead of going to these tournaments and stuff like that I just don’t like.”

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