The beginning of the 2015 high school football season is roughly three months away, but preparation has already begun for local teams who are shaking the rust and acclimating new varsity players through seven-on-seven scrimmages.
Stripping away pads, helmets and linemen, seven-on-seven scrimmages are a way for offensive and defensive players to learn schemes and develop good habits at skill positions during the offseason. Two of the area’s most storied programs, Turlock and Hilmar High, met on Wednesday to do just that, sharpening their respective edges at Joe Debely Stadium and reviving a competitive spirit that defines football.
“It’s a lot different game when you go seven-on-seven, so what we look to get out of it is to make sure the guys compete. We want to see our kids come out every day, prepare like it’s a game and compete,” Turlock head coach James Peterson said.
“Everybody is just trying to get better and these are some great programs that we really enjoy working with,” Hilmar head coach Frank Marques said. “It’s been very effective to get all that stuff in now before we get going in the season.”
For both the Bulldogs and Yellowjackets this year’s seven-on-seven scrimmages have been especially crucial with both teams welcoming new quarterback’s into the fold. And with new coordinators and personnel at other skill positions, the all-passing nature of seven-on-sevens has been a benefit for coaches trying to establish positions in new schemes.
“All I’m trying to do with seven-on-seven is to get our defensive coverages down, and I’m also trying to get our timing routes down,” Marques said.
“It’s fun because kids can condition and train and do things all off season, but you don’t really get everybody together,” Peterson said. “Towards the end of summer here is my favorite time because you see all the guys start to come back, you have your whole squad, and you can see who you think your top guys are going to be. Then it’s just a matter of counting down the weeks until we get the gear on and start practicing for real.”
Wednesday’s meeting between Turlock and Pitman also served as an opportunity for two long standing programs to compete against each other, an opportunity that began six years ago.
“In the community, guys would always talk about Turlock and Hilmar playing each other,” Peterson said. “The next best thing is we do scrimmages now.”
“I always enjoy scrimmaging with them. They’re well coached and they have that winning attitude,” he added.
“What I like is they’re coaches that do what we do. They’re out there for the same reasons,” Marques said.
Hilmar will also meet with Turlock’s crosstown rival, Pitman High, next week in a pair of seven-on-seven scrimmages scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday at Joe Debely Stadium and McSweeney Field, respectively.
Turlock will also continue its seven-on-seven campaign on Saturday at the Modesto Junior College Seven-on-Seven Passing Tournament which will host a number of teams like Escalon, Sonora, Modesto, Riverbank, Atwater, Turlock Christian and Ceres High.
Hilmar’s scrimmages with Pitman will begin at 6 p.m. and the MJC tournament will begin at 9 a.m.