With no running plays, no pass rush and a shortened field, coaches seldom place much importance on the outcome of 7-on-7 tournaments.
That doesn’t mean McCutcheon’s players weren’t excited to hold the championship trophy at the end of Saturday’s Lafayette Jeff 7-on-7 Shootout.
“We were two conference teams today, so that’s big,” said McCutcheon senior Nate Deno, who helped the Mavericks to a 22-20 victory over rival Lafayette Jeff in the championship game. “Coming out here against Jeff, they’re always good, real fast. Beating them at 7-on-7 feels really good.”
McCutcheon won for the second time in the event’s five years. Twelve teams, including nine from area programs, competed in the tournament at Scheumann Stadium.
The Bronchos emerged from pool play 3-0 and beat undefeated Delphi in the semifinals. Lafayette Jeff scored late to give itself a chance to tie McCutcheon, but the Mavericks knocked away the conversion pass.
“When it comes to the season, it will be a tough game like last season,” said Jeff senior Tim Wilson, whose team will play McCutcheon at Scheumann Stadium on Sept. 6. “We were losing, then we started playing like a team and came back and beat them. I’m pretty sure they want it more than us this year, but we’re going to go out, start fresh and start strong at the beginning of the quarter.”
McCutcheon used two quarterbacks: Aaron Phillips and Jami Frier. The Mavericks defeated Marian Catholic in the semifinals. Defending champion Central Catholic went 2-1 in pool play but did not compete in the afternoon, and Harrison finished 1-4.
Regardless of the outcome, Deno said 7-on-7 events are valuable because they allow players to receive a lot of reps against uncommon opponents. The Lafayette Jeff Shootout is held nine days before the official start of practice on Aug. 5.
“Work with the team, get chemistry, get better individually and together, and go against good teams,” Deno said.
Harrison also walked away with a pair of trophies, winning the junior varsity tournament with a 5-1 performance. Jamie Dunbar, Michael Kern, Jacob Miller, Brett Spitznagle and Evan Sturgeon combined to win the lineman challenge, with the Raiders beating McCutcheon in the semifinals and Jeff for the championship.
“These kids have bought into coach (Greg) Dunkel’s training program, and it showed up today,” Harrison coach Tony Martin said. “I’m really proud of all of them.”