Chargers impressive again in 7-on-7 drills
Another 7-on-7 tournament, another title championship for the Oxford Chargers.
Oxford’s summer workouts focused on pass skills and defending the pass, and culminated with a victory in the Amory Passing Tournament last week. The Chargers went 5-1, defeating Calhoun City to capture the title, their second of the summer and the third tournament in which they finished at least in the top four.
Johnny Hill, Oxford’s head coach, saw his players use various 7-on-7 tournaments the summer of 2013 to their advantage heading into the fall. Oxford won its first 14 games last fall, and a big reason for that was the amount of work, and bonding, gained during the summer.
This past week, Hill felt like his team played really well, again, in five of the six games. The contest that the Chargers let their guard down resulted in their lone setback on the field.
“I didn’t think we played with the intensity that you need to win that game, but we did in five of the six,” Hill said. “I say that not because we won, that was a result, but I think the loss helped us more than if we had won that one ballgame and went 6-0. As a coach, it’s good to see kids competing out there at a high level every play. I really thought we did that all but one game.”
Hill felt like Amory’s coaching staff did a good job of putting on the tournament, and that the field was competitive. The Chargers got to play some teams from Class 5A and 6A, before lining up against the best remaining teams, regardless of class, in the final stages.
“Our first three games were against the bigger class,” Hill said. “After the seeding process, everybody played everybody. Calhoun City did an outstanding job. Even though we beat them in the championship game, for them to go undefeated throughout the bracket and the tournament until they played us, I think that’s a big credit to them. They competed hard and they are athletic and I thought this tournament was good for teams like that.”
There is still a lot of work to do between now and the start of the football season in August, but Hill felt like his offense, led by quarterback Jack Abraham, was on pace to being ready for the opener at Jackson Prep based on how things have gone in the summer.
“I think Jack learned a valuable lesson in our loss,” Hill said. “We’ve got plays that are designed to go to certain places, but defenses don’t always do the same thing, and I think he learned a valuable lesson, which he has already known, to not get tunnel vision. See the big picture–take what they give you. From there on out, the rest of the tournament, he did that. He performed great.”
Oxford’s title win also happened without four or five key players. Hill said the replacements stepped right up and did their part.
“That’s good when you’ve got depth, and developing depth in your receivers, defensive backs and linebackers,” Hill said. “I thought our defense showed a lot of effort and played well. What made us the second seed coming out of pool play was the fact that our defense gave up fewer points than anybody. I think we’re getting better and getting smarter.”
Oxford defensive coordinator Steve Herring knows that it’s tough for defense to dominate 7-on-7 work, but he has been pleased with how his defensive backs and linebackers have looked in pass drills this summer.
“It’s like watching Arena Football sometimes. The defense is kind of out there and it’s tough,” Herring said. “We do it so that we can get that coverage and get our drops in man coverage. That’s why we like 7-on-7. You would think that the defense wouldn’t have much of a chance, but we get out there and get working, and doing what we got to do, it gives us great work in the summer that we can carry on into the fall.”