Columbia Academy hosted West Marion for a 7-on-7 scrimmage Monday morning, giving both teams the opportunity to compete and build chemistry as they continue their preparation for the 2022 season.
Though there aren't any pads, blocking or tackling involved in these scrimmages, West Marion head coach Brandon Thornhill said 7-on-7 drills allow unique opportunities for players to compete and see where they stand against other local programs that are working towards the same goals.
"There aren't any linemen, so it's not football, but it's still football, if that makes sense," Thornhill said. "It gives both teams an opportunity to work a lot on the passing game on both sides of the ball. Quarterbacks get the opportunity to learn how to work through progressions, receivers get to work on their routes, and together it's just an opportunity for them to build chemistry that'll hopefully translate to real games in the fall.
"Most importantly, I just think it's a great opportunity for the players to compete. They love the competition, and getting the chance to see other teams and measure where you are as opposed to where they are is just a positive step in the right direction when you're getting ready for the season."
CA head coach T.C. Chambliss loves the competition, too, and he believes the extra reps against quality athletes from other schools will help fuel his team's competitive spirit in a way that isn't easy to duplicate during a normal workout.
"Kids don't really get out and just play football that much anymore," Chambliss said. "For us it's just an opportunity to get out and do just that. It's throwing and catching the football, working on routes and coverage and building that chemistry with your teammates."
Both teams showed flashes of impressive athleticism and skill during Monday's scrimmage. West Marion rising junior Jude Stringer, who started at quarterback during the Trojans' spring jamboree, went 5-for-8 on the opening drive with a touchdown pass to rising senior Jakaden Mark. Thornhill said he was pleased to see them working well on the field together, along with several others that have been impressive over the course of the summer.
"Jude's doing a great job out there. I thought all three of our quarterbacks got some really good reps, so I was really pleased from that standpoint," Thornhill said. "Jakaden is coming off of a really great season for us. He had over 1,000 yards last year and scored both of the touchdowns that we have returning on the roster. Quanzarius Ward, who transferred in this year, he caught a lot of passes for us too. He's a great young athlete, and we're excited to have him on the team."
For the boys blue, Chambliss said he was impressed with the play of Eli Beard. The rising senior recorded a team-high eight interceptions last season as a defensive back for the Cougars, and with the reps he's taken this summer from the quarterback position, there is reason to believe he might have a lot to offer on the offensive side of the ball as well.
"Eli's just a really gifted, really hard-working kid. He pays attention to detail and focuses on all the small things that you like to see out of a quarterback," Chambliss said. "We've got a couple other guys taking reps at quarterback as well. Eli is just one of those guys who's willing to do whatever his team needs him to do to win. You know, 'Just hop on my back and let's go.'"
Though no scores were kept and no wins or losses were tallied, both coaches are excited about the progress their teams are making over the course of summer workouts, and they're eager to see how those improvements translate to Friday night football games.
"Me and Coach Thornhill, we really don't even keep score when we do these," Chambliss said. "We don't scheme any differently to try to win during 7-on-7 games. You won't see us do anything in a 7-on-7 that we don't plan to do on Friday nights. It was just two local teams pushing each other to get better, and that's always a lot of fun to be a part of."