HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Weekly 7-on-7 league provides good competition

High school football is back in West Texas.

Wednesday night out at Ratliff Stadium saw classic rivalries reignited for the first time in 2022, albeit in a different format most are familiar with.

During the summer, in an effort to prepare the players for the upcoming season, teams across the state compete in 7-on-7 football.

You won’t find shoulder pads or traditional helmets on the players, but you will find a more fast-paced game with quarterbacks looking to air it out at every opportunity.

While it might not be the hard-hitting action you see on Friday nights, players are hungry for the chance to compete and prove themselves against the competition.

Teams play three, 25-minute games each night, with two games being played on each field.

Among the teams that participated on Wednesday were Permian, Odessa High and Midland High.

“I think it’s good to get out here and compete on both sides,” said Permian Head Coach Jeff Ellison.

“It’s good competition.”

Although the head coaches could only sit back and observe, per UIL guidelines, the passion of the players more than made up for the absent coaches.

Now, months before the teams take the field against each other during season, there was plenty of chatter coming from both sides of the ball.

But as one parent said, “that’s just football, isn’t it?”

Of all the teams that competed, Odessa High easily had the most positive night on the gridiron.

OHS 1 saw victory in both of their games, defeating PHS 1, 14-7, and Midland 21-14.

“I was pleased with how they came out and performed,” Odessa High offensive coordinator Creighton Reed said.

Despite the Bronchos’ successful night, Reed understands that Wednesday’s success is downplayed in the grand scheme of things.

“I always tell them, this isn’t gonna win you games on Friday nights, but it’s a good opportunity for them to come out and compete,” said Reed.

While Kermit, Wink and Monahans are scheduled to compete in the league, which will take place over the course of several weeks, they opted not to make the trip this past week due to bad weather in the area.

Pending better weather, the league will give a 2A program like Wink the opportunity to test themselves against 6A competition.

“The bigger schools provide good competition for us. It makes our guys realize that there’s a lot of room for improvement,” said Wink Head Coach Brian Gibson.

While Wildcats have already qualified for the state 7-on-7 tournament, Gibson believes that the tougher competition on the Ratliff Stadium south fields can only benefit them.

”The speed of the game is gonna be faster and the talent is gonna be really good. We’re just looking forward to the competition. It’ll keep us sharp and make us better.”

No matter who participates, that’s that goal, improving the communication between the skill positions to get a head start on the upcoming season.

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