BOULDER — Think of the phrase “7-on-7 football” and images of wide-open passing attacks and an array of wide receivers maneuvering throughout the field invariably spring to mind.
Certainly all of that is true. And it’s an image perfectly in line with the pass-happy approaches that are becoming more prevalent at all levels of the game.
The Fairview Knights are no exception, as the club expects to enter the 2013 season led by one of the most explosive pass-attack tandems in the state in quarterback Anders Hill and receiver Sam Martin. That duo helped Fairview nab the championship of the Denver Broncos’ statewide 7-on-7 competition last month, earning the Knights an all-expenses paid trip to Cleveland this week for the NFL’s national 7-on-7 finals. Yet when the competition in pool play begins on Friday, the Knights hope their pass defense gets as much preseason fine-tuning as their offense.
“A lot of the things we got beat on last year were pass routes and stuff like that,” Fairview linebacker Daniel Hoskins said. “This is really helping us work on our pass defense.”
There is little question the Knights will put up points with a full season from Hill — the senior-to-be played only the final four games last year after returning from a fractured ankle — alongside the dynamic Martin. However, if Fairview hopes to improve on the 5-5 mark and first-round ouster from the state playoffs the team suffered last year, improving a defense that surrendered 31.3 points a game will be crucial.
While the 7-on-7 format of no hitting and no linemen does not provide a clear gauge of any team’s defensive prowess, Fairview defensive coordinator Ben Lewien is curious to see how his squad responds against some of the best high school passing attacks in the nation.
“I always take 7-on-7 with a grain of salt, as most people probably do, but it’s a time for us to work on our pass drops and our concepts and our communicating,” Lewien said. “I’m not trying to look at it as bigger than it is, but it is a neat opportunity for our guys to be together and have fun and compete at a really high level against national talent. It can only make you better.”
Fairview travels to Cleveland on Thursday and begins competition on Friday with a full day of games. If the Knights advance out of pool play, they will enter an elimination bracket for the championship round on Saturday.
While Fairview is approaching the week as a business trip, taking time out for fun is on the agenda as well. Given their return flight to Colorado is late on Sunday, the Knights’ coaching staff is attempting to plot a side trip to the football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
“First of all, I think it will be great for team chemistry,” Hill said. “Whenever you go on a team trip, you always have a good time with all the guys on the team. And for my part of the game, reading the different coverages, and having the receivers work on crisp route-running — there’s definitely a bunch of little things we can refine by doing this tournament.”
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