High school 7-on-7 action keeps football teams busy

A 7-on-7 competition is held every Monday during the month of June in Starkville (Photo by Ryan Phillips, DTL)
Staff Writer

There’s a wall of silence draped over many football fields across the state of Mississippi during these summer months as the Friday night lights won’t get power until mid-August.

Take a drive down Highway 12 on Monday mornings, however, and the buzz is bouncing off the hot turf at Yellowjacket Stadium.

A parking lot full of school buses await on the outside of the stadium and a great amount of competition is inside of it as Chris Jones and Starkville High schedule a day full of 7-on-7 competition every week during the month of June. Among those teams is some of the best talent in Mississippi with Louisville, Columbus, Greenwood, Leake Central, West Point and Noxubee County taking part every week.  

Most of these teams won’t meet in the regular season though Starkville plays Columbus, Noxubee and West Point. Jones feels that getting the chance to get reps for his players benefits the schools and prepares them for just about any competition they’ll see during the fall.

“This area has some of the best talent and the best teams, so for us to compete against each other every week, I think it’s going to make all of us better,” Jones said. “We won’t play when it counts, but it helps us all in the long run. We play the best competition on Mondays here.”

The Green Wave has never backed down from competition with or without pads. A few months after bringing home back-to-back state championships, they were back to work this summer and have already won a 7-on-7 tournament at East Mississippi Community College.

West Point has continued that display over at Starkville each week and head coach Chris Chambless likes what he’s seen so far out of his team. Most of all, he’s had a chance to put some of his younger players in situations that will prepare them for the next step.

“The 7-on-7 is really good and it’s just running around being athletes,” Chambless said. “It helps get your timing down on routes and really helps the defense trying to cover and get breaks on the ball. We’re getting a lot out of it this year.”

While the 7-on-7 games benefit the skill players the most, Jones has made sure the big guys haven’t been left out of the fun.

The offensive and defensive lines go through one-on-one drills to get some work in and that’s been helpful for each team as well. Among some of the players that all of the different teams get reps against are Mississippi State commitment Charles Moore from Louisville and Starkville defenders Jalil Clemons, Zach Edwards and Jaylen Ware.

“We just did pass rushing and pass blocking for those guys since we can’t put pads on and deal with the run,” Jones said. “It’s all about getting ready for the fall so we don’t have to overload on one thing. When we put the pads on, we’ll work on the run game.”

Those fall practices will be here before those teams know it and it will all be prepared because of the hot afternoons of June. It's only more of an advantage for a talent-rich group of programs that have made state championships routine.

The final day of 7-on-7 action will be next Monday at SHS and it’s open to the public.