Having seen a little success and some failure, the Gainesville Leopards’ 7-on-7 squad has competed in two tournaments this summer with the third to take place in Celina today.
In their first tournament of the summer, the Leopards hosted the event and went 1-1 with a 20-19 loss to Valley View and a 26-14 win over Bonham.
At Wichita Falls, the Leopards went 1-2 with a 19-13 win over Burkburnett, a 35-6 loss to Levelland and a 33-18 defeat at the hands of Boyd.
Head coach James Polk said he was proud of the Leopards’ win over Burkburnett and chalked up the losses to a lack of bodies.
“We didn’t have enough kids show up and it hurt us,” Polk said. “It was 100 degrees out there and having 9-10 kids play both ways was tough. We looked good the first game because we were fresh. Then, the next two games, they were throwing deep balls. A receiver would run off the field and another would come on the field and they would go deep again. It just wore us out.” Most of the other teams had at least 20 players and Polk stressed the need for more participation and conditioning.
“These schools aren’t any more athletic than us, but their participation is so much better,” Polk said. “That’s where the gap is.”
Polk said in the Leopards’ win that the team executed well on offense and displayed some progress on concepts that they had worked on in the spring.
On defense, with a new defensive coordinator, Polk said the team still has room to grow.
“We’re still working on where they need to be and how they need to play,” Polk said. “We can’t coach them at these tournaments, so with that, I thought they did a good job trying to make adjustments themselves.”
Polk said the summer has been a learning experience for him as he is stockpiling lessons to teach them come August.
He said that the team struggled on defense by being beat inside in 1-on-1 situations.
“We keep getting beat,” Polk said. “We’re there to make the play, but we don’t make the play. Maybe we need to work on our ball skills and maybe the defensive backs need to work with the receivers coach on going up and getting the ball.”
Polk said their quarterback Draylon Frankln had flashes of brilliance, but still had areas of his game to work on.
“He’s got to work on being able to change a route here and there or check the play to something else when it doesn’t look good,” Polk said. “He also needs to change the play if he’s uncomfortable. The play starts with him. He has to be comfortable. I don’t want to ask him to do things he can’t do or things he’s second guessing. We want to coach him to be confident.”
The ultimate goal for these 7-on-7 games and tournaments is to qualify for the state tournament in College Station, but there is one core desire for the emerging Leopards’ football team.
“The goal is to win,” Polk said. “That’s the mentality you have to have now. It ain’t to build any more. It’s to win. Period. We want to win. I don’t want to do anything just to do it. I’m not coaching just to coach. I’m coaching because I love it and I want to win.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip