A passing interest in summer football | RecordCourier.com

A passing interest in summer football

There are no pads or tackling, and wins are meaningless during summer seven-on-seven high school football games. Coaches realize, however, that the effort put in during July will pay off when regular season play kicks off in the fall.

More than a dozen high school programs were on hand Friday when Douglas High School hosted its third annual Flying Tigers Passing Tournament on a hot day at Keith Roman Field.

For fans, it was an opportunity to watch some of the North's top prospects for the upcoming season. Tournament games were played on a 40-yard field and a 40-minute running clock. For coaches, it was all about putting players on the field to prepare for the regular season. Even though Douglas lost all four of its games, including a one-point decision against Sierra League rival Galena, coach Ernie Monfiletto was upbeat about how the Tigers played.

"I'm excited," said Monfiletto, who is entering his fifth season as the Tigers' head coach. "I think we were better at the end of the day than we were at the start. We just want to work on getting better. Our goal is to improve with every game and every snap of the ball."

Hunter Hickey, a junior quarterback who has moved up from the JV squad, is now competing for the varsity starting job.

"I thought Hunter grew a lot today," Monfiletto said. "And our receivers ran good routes. We just need to defend better."

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Junior Phillip Lopez and senior Reagan Roberson provided highlight when they each caught two touchdown passes for the Tigers against Fallon at the end of the day.

Fallon, the defending state medium schools state champion, went 4-0 during the tournament. The Greenwave went 12-1 last year.

"We ran our schemes and got to look at a lot of different kids, so we felt good about it," coach Brooke Hill said. "We got a little tired at the end, but it was a hot day."

Douglas is scheduled to kick off its regular season Aug. 26 against McQueen in Reno. The Tigers will play their home opener Sept. 2 on Hall of Fame Night against five-time defending region champion Reed.

The Tigers are preparing for what promises to be a highly competitive Sierra League campaign. Defending champion Carson figures to be strong again, but coach Blair Roman said he expects Damonte Ranch, Galena, Bishop Manogue and Douglas to all be formidable in the league this season.

"Reed and ourselves have kind of been out front by ourselves the last couple of years, but now things are going to be coming back down to earth," said Roman, whose Senators went 2-2 during the tournament. "I think it's going to be very competitive up North."

The passing tournament serves as good preparation both offensively and defensively.

"The thing I like about seven-on-seven is you get to see defensive backs cover for a long time and you get to see the receivers work to get open," said Roman, a quarterback at Douglas in the 1980s. "It's great for developing chemistry between QBs and their receivers."

Sierra Lutheran, which plays 8-man football in the small schools Western 1A division, participated in the tournament for the first time. The Falcons played in the junior varsity division.

"We ran into Fernley, Reed, Carson and Douglas, so we had a pretty good challenge," said first-year head coach Billy McHenry. "But we had a lot of fun and the kids competed very well."

Fourteen players saw action for the Falcons, who are scheduled to open their season Sept. 3 at home against Tonopah. And the Falcons played with a little different look from other participating teams, according to McHenry.

"We play eight-man football, so even though this is seven-on-seven, we went with six (players) on defense and five on offense," he said, referring to the fact that eight-man football only has three blocking linemen as opposed to five in 11-man football. "We surprised the other coaches at first. I just told them to go ahead and do what they do; this is just how it works out for us as an eight-man team."

NOTE: Joe Andrews, an assistant on the Douglas coaching staff and former University of Nevada defensive lineman, showed his fitness and stamina at the recent Golden Gate Trail Run in the Marin County area when he completed the 50-kilometer race (31.6 miles) in a time of 6 hours, 18 minutes and 50 seconds. Andrews, 34, finished 15th overall and fifth in the men's 30-39 age group.

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