The heat was blistering, and the receivers were blazing.
The Sequoyah football team participated in 7-on-7 competition at Lenoir City High School on Wednesday, July 10. The Chiefs faced off against Kingston, Bradley Central and Lenoir City, testing their passing offense against multiple different defensive alignments and schemes.
“We’ve got to get back to just knowing what to do, knowing where to line up … we’ve got a ways to go,” Sequoyah head coach Ryan Bolinger said. “But I’m excited about … our kids for the most part have been excited.”
An opportunity for teams to test and work on their passing offenses and defenses, 7-on-7 contests feature only skill players offensively (quarterbacks, running backs, receivers/tight ends), plus a center to snap the ball, and only pass-defenders on the opposing side (linebackers, defensive backs).
Play is akin to flag or two-hand-touch football, as only passing plays are ran, there is no tackling and players’ equipment consists of just helmets. During Wednesday’s competition, teams rotated offensive and defensive series, with each offense allowed 10 plays before switching to defense.
In the Chiefs’ first game of the evening against Kingston, the Yellow Jackets scored a touchdown on their opening possession with a deep pass completion to the right side of the field. Matt Lee intercepted a Kingston pass for Sequoyah on the last play of the drive.
But that was about all that Sequoyah was able to accomplish against the Yellow Jackets, as Kingston would score again on its second offensive possession and pick off a Gabe Littreal pass before play ended.
Sequoyah faced Bradley Central in its second contest of the evening. The Bears intercepted a Chiefs pass on the first Sequoyah offensive play, then scored during an offensive possession on a pass over the middle.
Gunter Millsaps threw a touchdown to Justin Floyd, and Luke Lay and Floyd both grabbed interceptions to give the Chiefs highlight plays against the Bears, but Bradley Central scored on the goalline and picked off two Millsaps passes during the rest of the contest.
Sequoyah finished off the evening against host Lenoir City, allowing four total touchdowns to the Panthers. The Chiefs also threw two interceptions against Lenoir City’s defense.
“(We’ve) got a lot of things to study about,” Bolinger said. “We’ve got a lot of things to work up to. Got to get guys caught up. Got to find guys homes, where they’re going to be at.
“The offense that we run is universal for guys to move around and stuff like that. And guys are kind of honing in on certain things and certain positions when that’s not necessary. It’s just trying to help these kids adapt to this type of offense, which is different for them. They’re not used to it.”
Bolinger didn’t open up his whole playbook Wednesday, leaving out some concepts, such as motions, due to wanting to keep it basic. His concern is on the current culture and work ethic of his team compared to where he wants it to be.
“I think the dead period came at a bad time for us,” Bolinger said, “because we kind of have that momentum going and so now it’s just getting back in the swing of things … we don’t have the work ethic yet to where guys are doing it on their own during that dead period and they’re ready to go.
“So that’s something we’ve got to change in our culture is having guys that work out year round. It doesn’t stop. Football is forever.”
The Chiefs also recently finished up their 2019 Volunteer Camp, a three-day event organized by Bolinger and featuring former University of Tennessee football players, who helped coach campers ranging from elementary-age to high schoolers.
Former Vols slated to attend included Troy Fleming, Brett Kendrick, C.J. Fayton, Chris Walker, Herman Lathers and Chris Treece.
“It went really well,” Bolinger said. “My coaches loved it. The UT guys loved it that came down. The players that were there really enjoyed it and had some big takeaways. One of the kids … this was on day two, so before the third day, he said, ‘I’ve learned more in these two days than I’ve learned in two years.’
“Because you get to learn some things from guys that have played at that level and have played at the next level after that too as well. That’s a worth of knowledge that is hard to come by and you just don’t always get on an everyday basis.”