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MAROA — One summer during St. Teresa coach Mark Ramsey's days at Central A&M, he told his team that he didn't care whether or not they won a 7-on-7 tournament they were about to play in.

The result was a flat performance that left Ramsey seething.

"I was yelling at them and they told me, 'But you said you didn't care,'" Ramsey said. "So now I just tell them: 'Go out and play.'"

Ramsey still doesn't care if his team wins or loses 7-on-7 games — in fact, he still chuckles about another local coach who used to report his team's summer record to the Herald & Review every year. But like the other coaches at the Maroa-Forsyth 7-on-7 round robin on Saturday, he agreed that they serve a purpose.

"No one cares what your record is in the summer, though we have fans who keep track — even when we're not keeping score," Ramsey said. "But our kids do get something out of it."

Maroa coach Josh Jostes said before 7-on-7s, summer football was a tough sell.

"When we started our 7-on-7, contact days in basketball were 25 to 35 games against other schools and it was fun — every kid wanted to go to basketball," Jostes said. "Football was, 'Hey, we're going to lift, then we're going to run you butts off and it's going to be hot, then come back again tomorrow.'

"My goal was to make summer football more fun for our kids. I wanted our best athletes coming out."

Taylorville coach Jeb Odam said he looks at 7-on-7s as a "necessary evil."

"Kids enjoy it. They want to compete and get away from just practicing against each other," Odam said. "We're not going to sacrifice what our identity is for a 7-on-7. We're not going to put any exotic routes in. We're going to run what we run in the regular season and get better at it.

"But you always want to win."

The problem with 7-on-7 is that football is played with 11 on each side. The linemen are often left out, though some — including Saturday's tournament — feature "linemen challenges."

Linemen challenges include board drills, which are one-on-one matchups with other linemen, and also two-on-one drills and pass protection drills.

It doesn't sound as fun as chucking passes to streaking receivers, but Maroa senior lineman Lane Ohlmeyer insisted it is.

"The linemen challenges are intense," Ohlmeyer said. "They've made it a lot more exciting for us."

Jostes said there are 7-on-7 formats he doesn't like.

"In our Wednesday league, you get the ball on your 20 and it's first-and-15, so that way you can drive all the way down the field," Jostes said. "A lot of places you go, the ball goes to the 40 and you're just trying to complete a ball. I hate those. We won't even go to them.

"We also allow some blitzing, so it makes the quarterbacks have to throw on the run instead of just standing there."

Contact Justin Conn at (217) 421-7971. Follow him on Twitter: @jconnHR


Sports Editor

Sports editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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