SHENANDOAH JUNCTION – Jefferson head coach Craig Hunter was certainly pleased with his team’s progress.
But as he is quick to say, “I’m happy, but never satisfied.”
The Cougars rebounded from a tough road trip during a 7-on-7 football camp at Concord University the previous week to win a similar competition they hosted Saturday at their own stadium.
Jefferson finished the tournament with a 7-1 record, including winning the championship game 39-15 against Bowie, Md.
The Cougars had struggled a week earlier during a 7-on-7 competition at Concord in southern West Virginia, winning just once while losing several close games.
There was none of that this time around, however, as senior quarterback Andrew King had a strong showing by repeatedly slinging the ball out to playmakers such as junior wide receiver Christian Johnson.
“The kids were faster,” said Hunter, now in his second year atop the Jefferson program after leading the Cougars to a 5-5 record last season.
“They reacted faster,” he continued. “They knew what they were supposed to be doing. The offense knew the routes they were supposed to run. They got 100 percent better than they were last week.”
Cross-county rival Washington also participated as one of seven teams represented during Saturday’s 7-on-7 competition, winning four games before being ousted in the first round of a single-elimination tournament.
The Patriots, who finished 7-4 last season and reached the Class AAA state playoffs for the first time in program history under former coach Mark Hash, debuted Saturday with three consecutive victories for new coach Daryl Hayes before suffering a 33-0 round-robin loss to Jefferson. Hash is now on staff as an assistant coach at Jefferson.
“We didn’t practice 7-on-7,” Hayes said. “Seven on seven is not important. What’s important is we learn to play our offense and our defense and play together as a team. We’re not going to waste practice time in the three-week period working on 7-on-7. So for us to come out here and win four games against some monster Maryland public schools is very impressive.”
If you’re not familiar with 7-on-7, it looks a lot like backyard touch football.
It features a smaller field, no tackling, no linemen (except one person snapping the ball), no running, and a four-Mississippi count before the quarterback has to throw.
No one rushes the quarterback, but if he doesn’t throw within four seconds, it’s a sack.
There is no kicking, and possessions begin from the same spot on the field (usually the 45-yard line).
On Saturday, Jefferson finished the round-robin portion of the tournament 5-1. The Cougars defeated JFK (37-6), Wheaton 1 (34-19), Washington (33-0), Wheaton 2 (44-1) and Bowie (30-13). The Cougars were defeated by Clarksburg, Md., in their second game 20-12.
Jefferson later won consecutive matchups during the single-elimination part of the tournament following a first-round bye to win the championship.
“The Concord 7-on-7 we went to we only had a couple of days work,” Hunter said. “We told the kids just be patient. Let’s get a whole week of work in, and you’ll see how much better we’re going to get.
“If we continue this, I know this is 7-on-7, but if we get a line up in front of them, I think we’ll be all right this year,” Hunter continued.
Washington earned round-robin victories against Wheaton 2 (20-0), Bowie (26-23), JFK (20-15) and Wheaton 1 (28-13). The Patriots lost early games against Jefferson (33-0) and Clarksburg (26-0).
Washington later lost a close game to JFK to be ousted from the single elimination tournament.
Playoff scores were not immediately available.
Junior quarterback Chase MacCubbin got most of the reps for Washington. MacCubbin, then a sophomore, started for junior varsity last year as a senior-laden team led the varsity Patriots to their best season in program history.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Hayes said. “We did some good things, and we did some sloppy things. That’s our offense and our defense that we just ran. We didn’t waste any reps practicing for ‘7-on-7.’ So it was a good day for us. The guys showed muster. We were in every ballgame. We won more than we lost. It was a good day’s work for us.”
Jefferson and Washington wrap up three weeks of sanctioned summer practice this week.
Both schools will return to the field in early August to begin fall camp, with both schools opening their seasons on the road Aug. 29 against fellow Eastern Panhandle Athletic Conference opponents.
Jefferson will begin the 2014 season at Spring Mills, while Washington will play at Hedgesville.