It’s not always easy to gauge the merits of a late spring 7-on-7 football passing session. However, when two programs like Morris and Wilmington get together like they did on Thursday evening on the MCHS football field, you know you’re likely to see teams simply striving for improvements.
“I thought we improved as the day went on. At the beginning of the night I thought we were a little hesitant, but by the end I could see that the team was more aggressive,” Wilmington coach Jeff Reents said. “I thought we played faster as the night went on.”
“We always set goals, and I know this sounds cliche, but at this time of the year we just want to get better every time out,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “And from last week to this week, I saw improvements.”
Morris scrimmaged Plainfield South last Thursday and Wilmington this week.
“Coach Reents is a great guy and we like going against good programs. Wilmington is well coached. We know they are going to come out and give us some good competition. It’s similar to the relationship with Plainfield South now and the one we have with coach (Ken) Bublitz.”
Reents certainly likes the arrangement, too.
“We do love coming over here and the opportunity to go against coach Thorson’s team,” he said. “Like everyone else at this time of the year, we just like to get out and find out what the kids have got.”
With improvement being the main goal, the two teams did come out somewhat flat before turning it up a notch. In its first offensive series, Wilmington was 1-of-10 with an interception and Morris was 3-of-10 with one pick. The Wildcats then scored on a 40-yard bomb down the middle of the second series from quarterback Andrew Liaromatis to Tony Sinchak to highlight the 10-play set. The Redskins then responded by completing 6-of-10 passes, one of which was a 40-yard TD from Matt Darlington to Austin Laurie.
Sinchak again caught a long pass in the third series, but the Morris offense looked much more impressive throughout the duration as the quarterback combination of Darlington and Griffin Sobol completed 5-of-10 in the third series, 6-of-10 in the fourth and 7-of 10 in the fifth and final series.
“It’s pretty much an open competition right now,” Thorson said. “Griff has the arm strength and the size going for him right now, but he still has things to work on. And Matt is consistent and knows the offense real well.”
Especially in the last three series’ the Morris offense play calls were predominantly underneath and inside of 10 yards. In the third, seven of the 10 plays run were under 10 yards and in the fourth and fifth series’ exactly half the plays were short.
While offense is almost always front and center of attention at 7-on-7 time, Morris senior defensive back Kyle Hill liked the work of the defense.
“I feel like the defense improved a lot from last week. I felt like we got after it and I also felt like we showed some attitude today,” Hill said. “It’s a matter of believing that you are better than the person across from the ball is. It’s taking pride in what you are doing and the belief that you can win every play.”
Hill did mention the offense, as well.
“Offensively, we’ve been practicing on spacing,” he said. “We also are trying to cut down on dropped balls. But it’s just the 7-on-7 season and it’s just a lot of the same passing stuff that we were doing last year. To me it’s just classic Redskins football.”
Thorson said that he likes the 7-on-7 season simply to see the kids in motion.
“The biggest thing is getting to see the kids getting used to playing together as a team,” he said. “We have a lot of inexperience right now and we just want to get the guys out onto the field, get them into their positions and to see who can play where.”
Thorson pointed out that he thought his team got better from last week — in particular citing Hill for his work at cornerback.
“We definitely improved on both sides of the ball,” he said. “The defense had a great night. I think it was a huge step forward for those guys. They showed a real confidence in the positions they are playing, and namely I’m talking about Kyle Hill.
“The offense was O.K. but there are still things they need to improve on. They did do a better job of route running, but they also still dropped a few passes. But at this time of the year, you just want to see the kids getting better. That’s the goal.”
Other than weight lifting, Morris will take a break from it’s 7-on-7 schedule before heading up to Bolingbrook to compete on July 9. They then compete again on July 16 before being involved in the Bolingbrook Linemen Challenge the next day. The Raider Jamboree is on Saturday, July 20 and the final 7-on-7 is on July 25 against Seneca. After that, Monday, July 29 opens full padded camp. Opening game is August 30 against Minooka.
Sixty-nine days until kickoff.