Football: SCC is 7 on 7 central

Published 12:04 am Saturday, June 25, 2016

LAPLACE — There were no bands, cheerleaders or dance teams and only a handful of stalwart fans who were willing to brave the early morning June heat, but there was still a whole lot of football being played Wednesday at St. Charles Catholic High School.

A total of 10 teams from across the region had gathered on the LaPlace school’s grounds for the weekly Metro League 7 on 7 competition hosted by Comets head football coach Frank Monica and his staff.

There were football players (and buses) everywhere.

SCC’s Lloyd Nash, left, and Dustin Mire, right, go up for a pass against a Thomas Jefferson receiver Wednesday during 7 on 7 drills.

SCC’s Lloyd Nash, left, and Dustin Mire, right, go up for a pass against a Thomas Jefferson receiver Wednesday during 7 on 7 drills.

Some gathered on the Comets’ main field and others took to the practice field, all trying to outdo the other in either a scaled down football game or a glorified practice, depending on your view.

It’s strictly passing drills, quarterbacks, receivers on offense and defensive backs trying to stop them. There are no running backs (except those who run routes), no linemen, no rushing the quarterback and no tackling.

It’s also a heck of a lot more fun than putting on pads and crunching one another in the trenches.
Monica said he would have loved it when he was a player.

“Oh yeah,” he said.

Over the past five years or so, this has become the way to practice football in the summer and a useful tool for coaches at all levels.

“It’s about getting better, getting more repetitions,” Monica said. “We try to play our coverages so we can learn our routes. We run the same routes that we run through the year, our same coverages that we run through the year. It gets everyone experience.”

Monica, old school coach that he is, actually is a trailblazer of sorts in the 7 on 7 world. He and former East St. John coach Larry Dauterive started this league a few years ago, first hosting teams at the park near the St. John the Baptist Parish library in LaPlace. It later moved to St. Charles, even after expanding to 12 teams in a weekly competition.

The word “competition” is a rather loose interpretation, however.

“We don’t play the game itself to try to win it,” he said. “There are tournaments out there for that.”

Various organizations have gotten into the hosting business for weekend tournaments. Last weekend Hattiesburg, Miss., beat McDonogh 35 High, 35-8 to win the USA Football 7on7 Gulf Coast Regional Championship New Orleans Saints practice facility in Metairie. Southeastern Louisiana University hosts a few events as well. Those events also have become major recruiting tools for high school kids and college coaches. NFL teams across the country also host tournaments for local high schoolers.

Comets’ quarterback Lloyd Nash, a rising junior and the team’s projected starter this season, is just trying to get better.

He says the weekly event is helping him do that.

“I like putting pads on and hitting people too, but it’s fun,” he said. “The goal is to get out there and compete. We give it our all. We’re a young team, so we’re just trying to go out there and try to be competitive. It’s more work, more reps, getting more comfortable. We’ve got a nice receiving corps.”

Among those is newcomer Darrin Blystad, another rising junior, who is becoming Nash’s primary target this summer.

“It’s all about having fun,” Blystad said. “We want to get the ‘W’s’ and we get mad when we drop the ball. I just to get open, catch the ball and try to get as many touchdowns as I can.”

Monica is just getting his team ready for August.

“For one thing, you can really see who can’t play,” Monica said. “That’s what it does.”