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7-on-7 football takes summer stage

News editor

The Hillsboro Trojans football team chalked up a losing 2014 season, but with a large group of returning underclassmen, coach Lance Sawyer didn’t want to wait for fall practice to get going.

“I just kind of made a decision we needed to do something in the summer, and I contacted several area coaches,” Sawyer said.

He also worked with the Hillsboro Recreation Commission to sponsor his brainchild, a Thursday night seven-man flag football league.

Seven-man flag football is all about assessing and developing passing, receiving, and pass defense, Sawyer said. A center casually tosses a ball to the quarterback who scans the shortened field for receivers.

“It’s much more laid back,” Sawyer said. “You have more time to coach individually. We let the coach be in the offensive huddle so you know exactly what your quarterback is thinking at all time.”

Games are played at Wiens Stadium. Marion, Lyons, Herington, and Inman have participating teams, while Hillsboro has two.

“We’ve got 36 guys,” Sawyer said. “I never dreamed we would have that much interest in it. It’s not just our wide receivers and running backs, our offensive linemen are playing.”

The format gives Sawyer’s players the chance to work on plays and coverages they will use in the fall, and develop leadership skills.

The biggest benefit, however, is building communication skills.

“You get these kids that text 24 times a day and they never talk to anybody,” Sawyer said. “Communication is something we have to teach. Through eight years of coaching, I think the communication aspect has to be taught more and more. Those kids don’t really know how to talk to each other. Our guys have picked it up pretty well so far.”

Two weeks remain in the season, but Sawyer is already looking ahead to expand the league to as many as 16 teams next year.

Besides the benefits his kids and their parents get from playing at home, Sawyer said bringing other teams to Hillsboro has benefits beyond football.

“Any time we can show off our facility it’s excellent for our school, for Tabor College, for the community,” he said. “I think it’s good for everybody.”

The Hillsboro Maroon squad is 4-2, while Hillsboro White is 1-6.

Last modified June 25, 2015

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