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Honing their skills

King’s Fork, Lakeland and many other squads from around the Eastern Region and beyond endured Saturday’s blazing heat and hectic, fast-paced action during the 7-on-7 Peanut City Shootout.

The passing game tournament came barely more than a month before high school football teams will get going with two-a-day practices and just over two months from when the games will count again on Friday nights.

“This worked out really well for us. We were able to have nine guys on one team and 11 guys on another team, so everyone will get a lot of reps today,” said King’s Fork head coach Joe Jones.

“Today we’re going to learn as much as we can,” Ferebee said.

Lakeland doesn’t have any more passing leagues or camps on deck for the rest of the summer. A lot will be going on each week at Lakeland though, says the Cavalier head coach.

“If we’re at the point where we have a lot to learn, we might as well do it at home,” Ferebee said.

Both Ferebee and Jones are seeing clear benefits from Suffolk’s new middle school football program.

“We’ve got about 20-25 middle schoolers coming in from John F. Kennedy and Forest Glen and we expect to have more kids coming out when the season starts,” Ferebee said.

The encouraging news is not only in the form of a higher number of players, but it’s also showing in what the incoming freshmen know about the game and know some of what to expect.

“I’ve actually been getting calls (from newcomers) the last few weeks asking when weight training starts and that’s a difference from before,” Ferebee said.

Unlike the previous four editions of the Peanut City Shootout, linemen were a part of the day. Taking a page from a camp he took the Bulldogs to last summer at his high school alma mater in Johnstown, Pa., Jones introduced a Lineman Challenge to the Shootout.

Not all of the schools brought linemen along Saturday, but the idea is still worth building on according to Jones. “We’ll try to make it bigger next year,” the coach said.

Events such as a tractor tire flip, testing agility and with a tiring obstacle course as the finale were set outside in the hot, open sunlight. A bench press competition was held in KF’s weight room.

Salem, of the Beach District, won the Shootout. The Bulldogs faced Salem in the morning during group play and had a chance to take the lead late in the 25-minute game against the Sundevils before falling 29-16.

Quarterback Matt Hommell to wide receiver Chuck Clark was the best combination for KF. Hommell and Clark combined for four receptions on KF’s first scoring drive to make it 7-7. Hommell hit James Slade on a post route for a 30-yard touchdown to make it 16-14 Salem.

KF’s defense forced a turnover on downs on Salem’s ensuing possession, to make the score 16-16. KF drove to as far as Salem’s 6-yard line before an interception gave Salem the lead.