The Lindsay Knights enjoyed some success in the Valley View 7-on-7 football tournament, but they also suffered some misfortune.
A few Knights’ players were injured, which could impact their availability for the fall football season.
Lindsay offensive coordinator Zach Birdwell said the injuries were flukey.
“I’m a big 7-on-7 guy, because it’s what we do on offense and I like the kids competing,” Birdwell said. “And if anything, the guys run around for a couple hours. I’ve done it for five years and never seen an injury. We had two really big ones in two nights. Both of the injuries look like they’re going to be season-ending and it was to two of our two-way starters.”
As a result, head coach Jeff Smiley and Birdwell agreed to pull the team from the tournament.
“Smiley actually came to me about it and we kind of were on the exact same page because I felt it served its purpose which was our kids got a lot of extra reps. They got a lot more familiar with the offense. I don’t think we lost anything by not going for two weeks and kids have been still been throwing. With the new UIL rules, you get 30 minutes a day or two hours a week to work a little football. So we’ve still been throwing. It’s not like we just got rid of our footballs and stop doing football completely. I think it was a good, good choice for us.”
Despite the bad news, the Knights still focused on improvement and when some players were injured, others got opportunities for more experience.
“They were fluke things, but at the same time, it’s eye-opening for us, because now we’re now down to really important kids guys we couldn’t risk losing. We couldn’t lose anyone else because we were already down a couple other kids for various reasons. And we’re already going to be young to begin with.”
With teams such as Gainesville, Valley View, Sacred Heart, Tioga and Ponder, in the tournament, Birdwell said the level of competition was good for the Knights.
“There’s nothing like competing against other kids,” Birdwell said. “For our kids to get out there, I think that’s good for them to see some Class 3A and Class 4A teams and some really good competition. I think it’ll play be a huge benefit for us come August.”
Birdwell said the coaching staff had a chance to get to know some of the younger players that stepped in.
Moreover, the players were able to learn the playbook.
“I wanted to perfect 7-on-7 and kind of set that up with my spring and my summer and install stuff,” Birdwell said. “And I feel like for the most part, we’ve got exactly what we needed to get out of it. There are certain plays I really wanted us to focus on. And we did. You can walk through the locker room now and say a play and every kid knows what they need to do. Whereas I feel like if we hadn’t done 7-on-7, they would have to be thinking about it.”
Birdwell said he noticed areas for his team to improve in and some position groups really embraced the tournament.
“Receiver-wise, the main thing I noticed is we just got to continue to work on running crisper routes, good releases, good sticks, good head nods and all that kind of stuff,” Birdwell said. “7-on-7 was great for the quarterbacks. We can get out here and we can throw routes all day, which is awesome, but getting live reps is better. So just they need to continue to work on reading coverages and knowing who to read on certain plays. And then another thing that gets overlooked is a great opportunity for centers, who get an extra 150 snaps.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip