7v7 summer league helps area football teams

Dover’s Elijah Sessoms rushes after catching a pass during New Castle County 7v7 football league action this week. Dover Smyrna and Lake Forest all took part in the five-week, 20-team league. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Football season has started early for a few Kent County teams.

Three teams participated in the New Castle County 7v7 football league this summer. Dover High, Smyrna High and Lake Forest all took part in the five-week, 20-team league.

Each team played two games on Tuesdays throughout June and July for a total of 10 games each this summer. It is a touch-football league with no linemen or run plays.

“It can be a huge benefit for a lot of teams,” said Smyrna coach Mike Judy. “It gives us a structure in absence of out-of-season practices. We get together one day a week and play these game. If you show up early, you can sharpen up some of the skills and concepts you’re trying to work on. New Castle County provides participants with a few practices that get the OK and they’re allowed to have an organized practice before it starts.

“Anytime we have an opportunity to compete, we’re going to take it. Then throw on top of that you get time to practice with your skill kids, for our program we rely heavily on that league and what it provides it gets our skill guys up to speed.”

Dover High School quarterback Jordan Moran throws during a 7v7 football scrimmage at St. Georges High School.

Dover coach Rudy Simonetti has had the Senators involved in the New Castle County league each year he’s been at Dover as he enters his fourth season as head coach.

He said each year it’s different what he looks for his players to take away from 7v7. This year is particularly helpful to Dover as it looks to replace starting quarterback Jordan Magee. Simonetti had two different QBs rotate during the 7v7 season.

He said it also helps his skill players learn their schemes ahead of when camp opens on Aug. 12.

“The main thing is you get to see all the kids,” Simonetti said. “I think it helps build team camaraderie. Another advantage is it gives you a chance to work with all your skill guys. But I do caution them don’t look too much into 7v7 results. There’s no pads, no linemen coming at you. You have all those things on Friday Night Lights.”

Senators receiver Tajae Cooper catches a pass.

Judy echoed the results aren’t what matter during the summer, it’s more about development.

“The kids love playing it because it has a little bit of a fun, backyard football feel to it,” Judy said. “It’s not real football so no one is taking things too seriously. We’re all having fun and trying to get better.”

The New Castle County league has been at 20 teams for the last two seasons. It was at 16 teams in 2017 and has had at least 15 teams involved since Smyrna joined in 2015.

“It’s well-run and it’s a good price,” Judy said. “The cost is manageable for most schools. We get plenty out of New Castle County and we’re happy with how its run.”

Dover High School head coach Rudy Simonetti talks with players.

Dover also participated at a 7v7 event earlier this offseason at West Chester University.

And the rise of 7v7 summer leagues is a trend occurring nationwide.

“Back when I played in the late 90s and earlier 2000s, there was no such thing,” Simonetti said. “We just worked out, maybe had a few practices but nothing major. Now it is almost its own little entity. The kids seem to enjoy it. It keeps them fit and allows them to have fun.”

“It used to be this niche sport,” Judy said. “Now it’s really become a major tool to help us bring the kids along and I think it’s going to continue to get even bigger.”

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