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MAHONE: Overrated or essential, coaches' opinions vary on passing leagues

Derrick Mahone

Derrick Mahone

There is one thing that coaches all agree on, and that’s to disagree.

No matter if it’s choosing which offensive or defensive scheme to run or electing to participate in a local or national passing league, high school coaches will give a variety of opinions.

Over the last few years, 7-on-7 passing drills have moved from a couple of teams gathering and have become a national showcase for teams and players.

Several national 7-on-7 tournaments have emerged with big-name sponsorship. Many of the high school teams in the Southern Crescent have participated in these national tournaments while others prefer the traditional small get-together with a few teams.

A few teams opt to just use the allotted workout time to work among themselves.

“I was looking at the SEC Media Days, and a lot of players were talking about passing leagues and 7-on-7s,” said first-year Henry County coach Joe Dupree, a former college quarterback at Georgia Southern. “I don’t remember doing a lot of 7 on 7.”

When I played, there was no such thing as summer workouts. We were limited to weight training and running.

Not all coaches are advocates of the 7-on-7 drills that have been sponsored by professional players and a sports television network.

“I think they’re overrated personally,” Woodland coach Scott Schmitt said. “But if you can get some guys in the area that kind of see it the same way, it’s beneficial to get timing.”

Schmitt’s comments are similar to a coach who once told me that his team looked like a state champion in 7-on-7 workouts with other teams.

“The problem is when we add the other elements of the game,” the coach once said.

He was right as his team finished 5-5 and failed to make the playoffs.

Doing well in 7-on-7 leagues and tournaments can be a big boost to players’ confidence and can give you a sense of pride before the season starts.

But once the full pads and team come together, it will obviously be a different story.

Lovejoy did well in passing leagues during the summer of 2011 and went on to play for the Class AAAA championship.

Even if the Wildcats had elected to skip on passing leagues, they were still going to be a state contender with a roster loaded with major-college talent.

This summer, the Wildcats have won three passing-league tournaments, including one at the University of Virginia. Regardless, Lovejoy will be a contender this season with the return of 16 starters.

“It’s all about competition,” Lovejoy coach Al Hughes said. “The more times you can put your kids in position to compete, the better they are at learning how to compete. It’s about watching them line up against somebody and compete, and that’s what we get out of it most, but of course winning, that’s always the plan.”

And Hughes is hoping that translates into another deep playoff run.

Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily/Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerrickMahone_.