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Planning for 7-on-7 football this fall

Players, coaches and administrators planning for a 7-on-7 touch football season
Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 9:28 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The petition, started by CVU junior football player Henry Kramer, asking the Vermont Principals’ Association and Governor Phil Scott to allow traditional 11-on-11 tackle football to be played this fall had over 2400 signatures by late Friday afternoon. It’s a testament to the passion for the sport supporters have across Vermont.

But with traditional tackle football still listed as a 'high contact' sport by the state, the only one of the fall high school sports designated as 'high contact', and limited to only low contact conditioning and skill building drills, the Vermont Principals Association and school athletic directors and coaches had to come up with another way to play this fall or football could be left out completely, thus the plan for 7-on-7 touch.

Middlebury High School athletic director Sean Farrell is the chair of the VPA's football committee, and also serves as the scheduler for the Vermont Interscholastic Football League. He is heading the group working on the plan for 7-on-7 touch football this fall.

One of Henry Kramer’s criticisms of the 7-on-7 proposal that led him to start his petition is that, with lineman unable to fill their traditional roles as blockers and tacklers, they could find themselves sidelined or, at the very least, at a significant speed disadvantage trying to play 7-on-7 touch with smaller, quicker players.

Farrell says separate games for lineman are an option that is being considered, and while it may not be the traditional football that players, coaches and administrators would all like to see on the field this fall, the ultimate goal is to come up with a plan so that every athlete has some option to compete this fall.

"Our thought on that is to give them an opportunity to play football.", says Farrell. "When you got a 7-on-7 tournament in the summer, they have lineman challenge, where they're doing different activities, but it's mostly around strength. Not that they're not fun, and they have a great time doing them, but it's not playing the game of football."

Ultimately, 7-on-7 is a passing game. 7-on-7 is right up the alley of senior wide out Seth Westover, but he's also looking forward to helping his lineman teammates experience a different part of the game.

"We're gonna have big guys who are 240, 250 pounds playing outside receiver.", Westover. "Running lots of vertical routes. We're going to have all our normal varsity receivers out there telling them how to run the routes, how far it is, all the techniques and coaching them up through this whole thing."

And Cougars head coach Nick Michaud says the most important thing to remember is that there will be a version of high school football played this fall.

“It was obviously a bummer that we’re not playing the traditional 11 on 11 football, but nevertheless, these kids are all competing and playing with their friends and being active and that’s the biggest thing to get out of this.”, says Michaud. “We need those kids to be mentally engaged in sports to help them in the classroom or online learning. To keep them interacting with themselves, with each other and hopefully it carries over to the classroom.”

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