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What benefit are 7-on-7 passing camps?

Posted: July 31, 2014 10:34 p.m.
Updated: July 31, 2014 10:34 p.m.

Saugus High quarterback Chris Hamilton passes to a teammate on June 29 at the Saugus Under the Lights Passing Tournament. Saugus' passing tournament is the premier event of its kind in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Passing tournaments, 7-on-7s, whatever you want to call them, they’re not new.

But they’re big.

So big now some teams will be playing against an opponent as early as January.

While Saugus baseball was playing a playoff game at Alemany in May, Valencia was on the football field competing in a 7-on-7.

Does all that football, even a brand of football that is different from what teams see in actual games, provide any benefit?

The answer is no.

And yes.

“I’ve gone to both spectrums,” said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. “One side is it’s the biggest waste of time on the planet. Then the other side is the benefits are huge. To where I am now in the middle.”

Bornn’s Saugus program annually puts on the premier 7-on-7 event in the Santa Clarita Valley — the Saugus Under the Lights Tournament.

He said that 7-on-7s are an opportunity to teach concepts to quarterbacks and give his team some competition.

But the contests themselves are unrealistic because there is no pass rush and quarterbacks might not have that amount of time in the pocket.

Valencia head coach Larry Muir said he likes the passing tournaments because they present an opportunity to work out new aspects of an offense or defense and also gives new personnel a chance to get its feet wet.

“Because we throw the ball a lot and if the passing game’s a big part of what you do, then I think it’s invaluable,” Muir said.

But he said there is a point of diminishing returns.

Teams are playing weekly, on weekends and traveling hundreds of miles to play in some of these tournaments.

“Being an offensive lineman, I’m not a big fan of it,” said Golden Valley first-season head coach Dan Kelley. “You kind of get away from football, about developing the offensive line and developing a realistic offense and realistic defense.”

Being the first-year coach of a football program, Kelley does see the good in it, as well.

Golden Valley is still getting used to a new offense and defense brought in by the former Arleta High head football coach.

The Grizzlies coaching staff filmed all 7-on-7s and critiqued them.

Santa Clarita Christian head coach Garrick Moss sees these passing tournaments as a way to get his small school exposure, but he said the lessons his players learn in competing in them could be learned if they didn’t compete in them.

But ...

“The biggest advantage to doing them is if you’re a spread offense, like we are, and play a ton of spread teams, you need reps against different styles as a defense and secondary and linebacking corps,” Moss said.

Bornn said a good alternative for his team has been integrated practices — practices where two different high schools are running plays against each other and using all 11 men.

“We did it for the first time last summer,” said Bornn, who added that he was told about the benefits of it from Hart head coach Mike Herrington. “It’s huge. So much better. It integrates all kids and linemen.”

Much is made about passing tournament wins and losses from prep sports media.

But do the wins and losses mean anything?

It depends on who you ask.

Saugus went 3-21 is 7-on7s in 2008.

It also won the Foothill League title that year.


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