The month of June in Missouri means that high school football is in full swing, or at least this is the case at Excelsior Springs High School. The Tiger team has been setting their alarm clocks to get up early in the morning to head to the weight room, the beginning step in their quest for football dominance.
Last Thursday the Tigers made their very first season debut at Lee’s Summit High School, where they competed in 7 on 7 competitions against William Chrisman, Lee’s Summit and Bonner Springs high schools.
“I couldn’t be happier with our performance tonight,” said Tiger head coach Andy Sims. “We obviously were the smallest school there, but that didn’t slow our guys down a bit. They really went out there and competed very, very well.”
Sims added that all night he kept receiving compliments from other coaches about how impressed they were with our team. “That means a lot to me and our coaching staff, but it’s really a credit to how hard our players have worked over the last few years to get to this point. We don’t have any ‘front runners’ on this team, not anymore.” explained Sims.
He then added, “Not one of these guys out here right now is scared of hard work and competing against the best. You look over and you see Lee’s Summit with over 50 skilled players on the sideline and then you see the 12 of us and our guys didn’t even bat an eyelash. In fact, I kind of think they liked it. They’re like, heck, we’ll take on anyone, and we don’t care how big you are. I think that kind of attitude is awesome.”
The 7 on 7 concept is part of football, and is often referred to as the “Passing Game.” During 7 on 7 play there are no linemen, just seven offensive players and seven defensive players. Teams are not allowed to run the ball and the field is only 50 yards long. Teams have three opportunities to get a first down and then four opportunities after that to score.
“It’s not real football, that’s for sure,” said Sims. “This is just an opportunity for us to come out and focus on our passing game and some of our pass defense. You’re not allowed to blitz, hit, or anything like that defensively so it’s not a true measure of the game, but it does give us the opportunity to see our guys compete.”
Sims continued, “This is the time of year that you want your players to make some mistakes. They need to learn how to take some chances and go with their gut instincts, without the game being on the line. That’s how you grow as a player and build confidence.”
And confidence is what the Tigers brought with them Thursday night versus stiff competition. According to Sims, the Tigers were led offensively by Kevin Smith and Corey Scoma, both of whom came up with amazing catches and found the end zone several times. Leading the Tigers, at quarterback, were seniors Austin Lewis and Alex Vanfossan.
“It was a good night for all of us offensively,” Sims continued. “We have two guys really competing for that starting QB position, and that’s only going to make them and this team better. Competition breeds success and each one of those guys are competitors in the true sense of the word. They don’t know how to quit. They are going to fight, scratch and claw for every little inch out on that field and man, you got to love guys like that.”
Defensively, Sims said, the Tigers were inconsistent at times, but the Tiger head coach has no worries that the team will be ready come game time. The 7 on 7 game is hard on defenses, he added. “There’s no pass rush, no element of toughness or physicality. It’s more finesse, and well, that’s just not our style of defense. We want to knock the other team off the ball and play aggressive, which you can’t do in 7 on 7. However, it does give a chance to focus on technique and that is always good.”
Sims explained that the Tiger team was missing two of their starters on defense, but that did not slow down other key players such as Brian Bell, Trey Lawrence and Chris Woomer, all of whom made some great pass breakups.
The Tigers will continue through the month of June with a packed schedule. Next Tuesday the team will travel to Staley High School, then again on June 26, to compete against the Class 5 undefeated State Champion Falcons in a team camp that will allow the Tigers to wear full gear and will involve the entire varsity team and all aspects of real football.
The Tigers will also make another trip to Lee’s Summit next Saturday, but this time they will play at Lee’s Summit North to compete in the 7 on 7 Midwest Championships. This will be a tournament featuring the top teams in the KC Metro area.
By Jae Juarez • firstname.lastname@example.org