The football season will be starting a little early as teams from across the country come to Hoover for the annual 7-on-7 competition — although it will be a bit different this year.
The National Select 7-on-7 tournament has been a part of high school football for more than 20 years, says Brandon Sheppard, director of USA Football 7-on-7.
“This is the most competitive event of its kind in high school football each year,” Sheppard says. “It is the culmination of the off-season training for high school teams. This event annually hosts the premiere high school programs from across the country.”
But, it’s the first year it will be under USA Football, which is the sport’s national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Although the USA Football national championship is replacing the National Select competition, the focus on the players and coaches won’t be changing.
“It has a reputation as the most competitive high school team competition and as such, the defacto National Championship and culmination of summer activities for high school teams,” Sheppard says.
The National Select 7-on-7 began in Hoover in 2001 in response to high costs and a limited quality of competition found on other camps at that time, Sheppard says.
“USA Football is proud to call Hoover home of our 7-on-7 national championship, celebrating high school football and kicking off the season right here,” he continues.
Games will be held at the Hoover Met soccer fields, Buccaneer stadium and Hoover High School soccer stadium July 14-16. Thirty-six high school teams had already signed up for the event by early June, with more continuing to join.
There are several differences compared to the tradition tackle football people see on Friday nights, beyond having seven players per team on the field at a time instead of the normal 11.
Only passing plays are allowed, players can’t tackle, games are 21 minutes long, there are no special team situations and points are scored differently.
The tournament is meant to encourage team development and bonding, Sheppard explains.
“It unites coaches and their teams by further developing a program’s offensive and defensive techniques, philosophies and fundamentals in a competitive environment,” he says.
There’s no admission to attend the tournament, and Sheppard says spectators are welcome. It’s a way for people to see some high-level teams perform (and also get their high school football fix until fall is here).
For more information on the USA Football 7-on-7 tournament, visit Usafootball.com.
Cutline: Players are considered to be down if the defense touches them with one hand.