KF, Peanut Shootout teams with NFL Draft guru

Published 10:53 pm Saturday, June 11, 2011

King’s Fork’s Matt Hommell puts a pass up during last year’s 7-on-7 Peanut City Shootout passing tournament. This year’s Shootout and Lineman Challenge is set for Saturday, June 25 at King’s Fork and the event is affiliated with Mel Kiper Jr.’s 7on7U for the first time since the Shootout started in 2006.

In its first five years of existence, King’s Fork’s annual Peanut City Shootout 7-on-7 passing tournament’s become one of the most popular high school football events of the summer around Hampton Roads.

This year’s Shootout, set for Saturday, June 25, will take the popularity statewide and increase the intensity for every player going all out during a blazing summer day because the Shootout is combining with Mel Kiper Jr.’s 7on7U.

Kiper is a longtime ESPN personality, most recognizably as the network’s NFL Draft expert. Kiper’s 7on7U is organizing and running competitions and combines in 19 states.

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The Peanut City Shootout will be a qualifying tournament for the 7on7U National Championship and considered the “7on7U Virginia State Championship.” The accolades and national title chances will be for more than just the seven-man squads.

King’s Fork head coach Joe Jones introduced the Lineman Challenge to the Shootout last June. The top teams of the big fellas on the O-lines and D-lines will move on to the National Championship as well, set for July 14-16 in Washington, D.C.

“It really does get our linemen involved. It’s another chance for our coaches to work with our guys,” Jones said.

Jones first saw a lineman competition with his Bulldogs at a team camp in Pennsylvania a couple summers ago. King’s Fork’s linemen brought home a nice champion’s trophy from the camp. Jones kept the idea going back in Suffolk.

Sled drives, sled pulling, bench pressing for reps, shuttle runs and obstacle courses with ropes, tire flipping and testing agility are some of the Lineman Challenge events.

King’s Fork will host a combine the day before the Shootout. Saturday will be full of action all over KF’s campus. Lakeland and Nansemond River will be in action as will four of the seven Chesapeake schools in the Southeastern District.

Prior Shootouts brought 24 teams together and needed six 40-yard fields. Thirty-two teams are coming to KF this year and eight fields will be used. Each squad will play a minimum of four games.

A 7-on-7 game lasts 25 minutes. Ball carriers are touched down. There‘s no pass rush and quarterbacks have four seconds to pass or else his team loses yards and the down. Offenses get three downs to cover 15 yards. Defenses score points for their team by getting stops on downs or interceptions.

Playing competitive games at any time of year is great for a football team, Jones said. At the same time, Jones wants the Bulldogs to remember the big point of working hard in June.

“Seven-on-7 tournaments and leagues have gotten huge, it’s a really big deal now,” Jones said, “but I want my team to stay pretty grounded.

“When we open versus Booker T. Washington (KF regular season opener on Aug. 26) our record will be 0-0 and if we won or lost 7-on-7 games won’t matter,” Jones said.

“We have to use these tournaments and events to improve our passing, route-running, catching, our defensive skills, how we play as a team,” Jones said.

King’s Fork played in a passing game tournament in Richmond last weekend, playing eight games in a day. The opportunity to have lots of players in action and get valuable reps throughout the Bulldog playbook was the big benefit.

“The guys have been working hard and doing a lot of stuff on their own. They’ve been really focused on getting better,” Jones said.

This coming week will be a mandatory break from all things football for end-of-the-year exams.

“Then we’ll be six weeks from the start of practices,” Jones said.