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St. John Parish 7-on-7 league underway

By RYAN ARENA

L’Observateur

LAPLACE – A field of 13 prep football teams are testing their passing skills against one another this year at the St. John Parish 7-on-7 passing league, which got underway this week on the fields outside of the parish library on Hwy. 51.

St. Charles Catholic returns, competing as it has in each of the league’s six years of existence. Joining the Comets will be Ponchatoula, East Ascension, St. Amant, Dutchtown, McDonogh No. 35, De La Salle, Newman, Jesuit, Fontainebleau, Loranger, john Ehret and Thomas Jefferson.

The camp will run for five more consecutive weeks each Wednesday, starting at 9:30 a.m. each day and running to 11 a.m.

The 13-team roster represents one of the biggest fields in the history of the league, and the variety of looks any one team gets to see will only help those involved, said St. Charles coach Frank Monica, who organizes the league.

“What makes it tremendously helpful is that your quarterback can’t get comfortable facing one team or one defense,” he said. “He’ll see one team going man to man, another going zone. Then, defensively, your team is going to see a variety of different offensive sets and looks.

“For wide receivers, you’ll see them have to escape the press against a wide variety of different defensive backs, how they operate in the redzone. Defensive backs get practice in disguising their coverages. You get a lot of good work and a lot of mental preparation.”

For St. Charles, the summer work looks to be as important as ever, with a variety of new starters on both sides of the football. Quarterbacks Austin Weber and Jemal Baptiste each return, but they’ll be throwing to an almost entirely new cast of characters at wide receiver and tight end.

“It’s a chance to learn the system better, and another look at your players, seeing who can compete. If you can do it here, you can do it on Friday nights,” said Monica. “It helps us to identify our depth chart.”

Each team will compete in three consecutive 30-minute games in each session.

“It definitely tests your endurance,” said Monica.

“You’re playing three consecutive games without a break or a halftime.

Monica said that the St. John league is unique from others around the state, due to its structure and the number of teams that annually compete.

“It’s been a big boon for us over the past few years. I had to turn away a few teams just because we had a full roster. We just hope to avoid the rain.

“I don’t think there’s another 7-on-7 league like it in the state. People keep coming back, so we must be doing something right.”