No pads, no coaches, no problem.
That’s life in the high-flying land of 7-on-7 football, where high school teams play pass-and-catch in the summer to develop their skills and lay out the blueprints for the upcoming season.
At least three teams from the Golden Circle area — Corsicana, Mildred and Wortham — are playing 7-on-7 this summer in hopes that the extra time on the field will pay off down the road.
The Corsicana Tigers plan to throw the ball a lot more under new coach Steve Hoffman, who believes in balance and putting the ball in the air.
That’s one reason the Tigers are playing 7-on-7 football this summer. Corsicana hasn’t played in recent years but Hoffman believes in the 7-on-7 game and he also knows he’s playing catch-up.
“I’ve only been here six weeks and we only had the kids five weeks this spring,’’ said Hoffman, who was hired in April. “We’re still trying to put in our offense and the 7-on-7 will help a lot. It’s very beneficial. For us it’s big.’’
Corsicana, Mildred and Wortham are all competing in an eight-team 7-on-7 league that plays in Teague. The teams play two games one night a week and will complete a 12-game schedule before playing in a Teague state-qualifying tournament on June 28.
It’s a big month for Hoffman’s team — and for Devontay Bell, Corsicana’s electric quarterback who is coming back from an ACL injury.
“He can run and throw,’’ Hoffman said of Bell, who is expected to be the catalyst of the offense. “We’ve got some athletic guys and getting the ball to them will take the pressure off of Devontay.’’
That’s the plan, to use every weapon and run a multiple offense that keeps opponents guessing and allows the Tigers to take advantage of an attack that features a land and air game.
The 7-on-7 game has changed the landscape of high school football in Texas and Hoffman hopes the extra time on the field this month will help his kids next fall. High school coaches aren’t allowed to coach the players, but the end result of a summer of 7-on-7 can’t help but benefit Corsicana, which has a new coach and a new system.
And the kids love it.
“The kids are real excited about 7-on-7,’’ Hoffman said. “They’re here and they’re playing. They were excited to know we are going to be putting the ball up a little more.’’
Corsicana lost its first two games, but both games were close, a fact that Hoffman felt was a positive.
“We were right there in both games,’’ Hoffman said. “We’re getting better. Our goal is by the end of 7-on-7 to be night and day from the beginning.’’
Wortham, which has been playing 7-on-7 for two years, and Mildred, which has played for four years, both joined the Teague league that has teams from Waco High, Groesbeck, Mart, Mexia and Teague as well as GC teams Corsicana, Wortham and Mildred.
“This is our second year of 7-on-7,’’ said Wortham coach Shane Doege, who loves the spread offense. “When I took over I wanted the kids to get involved with 7-on-7. The biggest sell for me at Teague is the level of competition. The wins and losses don’t mean as much in the summer as the growth of your team.’’
Witty Busby played quarterback at Wortham for about half of the season last year, and Doege knows how much a summer of 7-on-7 can do for Busby.
“I think it’s great for the receivers to learn routes and for the quarterback to learn reads,’’ Doege said. “There’s a four-second clock for the quarterback to get rid of the ball. It’s helping him a lot. I’ve already see his growth. It’s been great. Our kids are doing a better job of catching the ball in traffic and the quarterback is making better reads. He sees what the offense is designed to do and sees it more clearly.’’
Doege knows the 7-on-7 game can make an impact. He can’t predict what kind of fall Busby will have, but said that a 2,000-yard season “is not out of reach.’’
Mildred, which reached the Class 2A state final last year, will have to find a new quarterback with the graduation of four-year starter Nic Shimonek, and new coach Billy Dan Chambliess said that battle will be fought out during two-a-days.
“Right now we’re not sure who the quarterback will be until we put the pads on,’’ Chambliess said. “It will be tough to replace a kid like Nic. When the receivers turned around the ball was right there.’’
Two Mildred quarterbacks — sophomore Will Burnham and senior Mikey Muncy — are playing in the 7-on-7 league, which provides more than just a chance for quarterbacks to hone their skills.
“It keeps the kids active and helps them get in shape,’’ Chambliess said. “They get a workout without even knowing it. And our kids are competitive. They like to compete.’’
No pads, no coaches, no problem.
GC Softball: Playoff Time
There were some bumps on the road and slides in the standings and a few bruises along the way, but five Golden Circle teams have reached the softball playoffs that begin with first round games on Thursday.
For Corsicana it was a wakeup call during the second half of district play that gave the Tigers the push they needed, and for Mildred it was the culmination of yet another splendid season as the Lady Eagles made the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Blooming Grove is back again, a regular in post season play with a chance to make a run, and Hubbard begins its quest to get to the state tournament and Austin with a one-game playoff on Thursday against Itasca in Italy.
Navarro Softball: Bulldogs split with Kilgore, win final home game
Kristen Ahearn was mad, steaming.
Even her peanut butter and jelly sandwich that she ate between the doubleheader games didn't taste good. Nothing fit. Nothing was in sync. Nothing felt right or even tasted right.
Then Ahearn found the cure.
Simple enough: Just go out and blast a three-run homer.
That's the short version of what happened Tuesday at Navarro College, where Ahearn's three-run bomb ignited the Bulldogs in the second game against Kilgore and Navarro went on to win 8-5 to close out its regular season with a bang and a smile from Ahearn.
GC Baseball: Kerens beats Cayuga 5-1, wins first district title since 1981
The wait is over.
And it came just in time for Brett Anderson, who left it all on the mound Tuesday night at Kerens, where he pitched a masterpiece to lead the Bobcats over Cayuga, 5-1, and help the program win its first baseball district title since 1981.
“I've got no gas left. I'm out,'' said Anderson, a senior lefty who stopped Cayuga cold, holding the three-time defending district champs to just three singles while striking out 14.
GC Basebal Roundup: Corsicana blasts Jacksonville; BG wins huge district game
The Corsicana Tigers wrapped up district play with a dominating 9-0 win over the Jacksonville Indians behind Trevor Nolen, who shut out the Indians and allowed only one hit over 6 1/3 innings. Donovan Fields came on to retire the final two hitters. The Tiger pitchers limited the Indians to only 25 plate appearances in the game and no runner to reach third base.
Rodeo: Navarro County Derrick Days -- Burton is back
Professional rodeo entertainer Ronald Burton returns to the Navarro County Exposition Center April 25-26 to entertain the crowd at the 2014 Navarro County Derrick Days Pro Rodeo.
Huggins to call shots at Derrick Days Rodeo
West Huggins will serve as the announcer for the 2014 Navarro County Derrick Days Pro rodeo. The Gardendale native is the reigning three-time United Professional Rodeo Association Announcer of the Year.
Dill gets 300th win in Navarro baseball sweep of Bossier Parish
Navarro baseball’s weekend in Louisiana was significant on a number of fronts. On one hand, coach Whoa Dill notched his 300th win. On the other, and perhaps more importantly, the Bulldogs simply continued to play well. The Bulldogs swept Bossier Parish to move 14-11 in Region XIV East Zone play, and 27-17 overall.
Mildred sending five to regional track meet
Sasha Ballard set a school record in the 800 meters and paced a contingent of five Mildred thinclads heading to Stephenville for the regionals later this week.
Kerens boys grab four gold medals at area track meet
Tavion Hall and Jalon Moss each snared a pair of gold medals as Kerens boys finished second at their area track meet last week with 88 points.
Area schedule for the week
Here's a look at this week's schedule for Golden Ciircle teams and Navarro College. The schedule does not include upcoming bi-district playoff games in softball because times and sites have yet to be determined.
- More Sports Headlines
- GC Softball: Playoff Time