Fall’s football season has come and gone, but the Gainesville Leopards are getting an opportunity to work on their game in the spring as Gainesville High School is set to host a state-qualifying 7-on-7 tournament on Saturday.

Gainesville will be in group A along with Valley View and Bonham. Group B consists of Aubrey, Springtown, Bridgeport, and Celina’s junior varsity team.

Group C has Graham, Godley, Melissa and Boyd while Group D has Celina, Burkburnett, Bowie and Decatur.

Gainesville head coach James Polk said hosting the tournament is a big coup for the school and the football program.

“When I came here, one of our goals was to get our facilities up to par so we could host one here,” Polk said. “Now, with everything the school board has done, we have the facilities to host a big tournament.”

There are a multitude of benefits for the Leopards according to Polk.

“I feel like it keeps the kids playing football and being active instead of sitting at home,” Polk said. “It keeps the kids competitive and being held accountable for each other. It’s good for the community too. You’ve got 16 teams to a tournament all day long. That’s going to bring business to the community. People are going to see what Gainesville is all about.”

One of those advantages of the tournament is being able to build off the evaluations made from fall’s football season.

“One thing I told my offensive coaches is I want to see us be more simple in the passing game,” Polk said. “Let’s sell out to two or three things and sell out to a bunch of formations that do the same thing. The key is repetition.”

Classes 4A and below are not allowed to have coached spring football practice according to the UIL regulations, but Polk said that isn’t necessarily a bad thing said Polk.

“Even if we could, I don’t think I would is because we push so many kids to play different sports,” Polk said. “I don’t think it’s fair to have the baseball, soccer and track coaches to have the kids playing football instead of their sport. They actually have a win-loss record instead of just us practicing.”

Polk said he has seen the kids excitement about the tournament on and off the field.

“I think it’s good for them because first off, they love playing football,” Polk said. “They get to go off and showcase in front of people. All of the weight-lifting we’ve been doing pays off a little bit. That’s a big deal and it makes a big difference. We can’t make them be here, but we’re not going to shut these doors until they’re done.”

Gainesville and Valley View will begin their tournament against each other at 9 a.m.

As far as the expectations for the tournament for the Leopards, Polk said they are high.

“I think they’re going to compete and that’s what I want to see, but I also want to see us win,” Polk said. “We need to start developing an attitude of winning and closing people out and not panicking. We need to have some dog in us.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip

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