Work comes in 7-on-7

Published 10:14 pm Saturday, June 25, 2011

Interception: King’s Fork safety/wing back Chuck Clark goes after an interception in KF’s game against Warwick Saturday. King’s Fork hosted the Peanut City Shootout for the sixth straight June.

Serious heat and humidity combined with full-speed action on eight fields at Saturday’s Peanut City Shootout at King’s Fork added up to an excellent reminder high school football’s preseason and equally hot and nasty two-a-day practices are barely more than a month away.

It was the sixth annual Peanut City Shootout, featuring a combine Friday afternoon, then a Lineman Challenge and 7-on-7 passing tournament Saturday, but it was the first year the Shootout’s been affiliated with Mel Kiper Jr.’s 7on7U. That link introduced a couple extra carrots to the competition as the lineman and skill position players were going after state championship bragging rights and the chance to go to Washington, D.C. in July for the 7on7U National Championship.

For the coaches of the three Suffolk schools in action, those goals are nice but they aren’t the real objectives in front of them for the upcoming season, when pads, helmets, full 100-yard fields and four quarters of football, instead of a few 7-on-7 possessions back and forth, will be required.

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“We are out here to get better. We have a young team. We were very young last year with only four seniors leaving us last year,” said Lakeland head coach Glenwood Ferebee.

The Cavaliers fell from 6-4 and close to a regional playoff spot in 2009 to 0-10 last fall.

“Even at 0-10, we had six or seven games we were in. We’re building on that, but we have to get better with the small things, the fundamentals,” Ferebee said.

In the Cavs’ second game of the day, they trounced Middlesex 41-0. Lakeland rolled for four touchdowns on offense, and the defense did some scoring too with two interceptions.

Moments after the win, Ferebee was letting his squad have it as though they were down four touchdowns at halftime of an October district game.

“That was pretty much about how we can’t take plays off. One play can decide a game. We lost games last year because of one or two plays,” Ferebee said.

Zach Super, a transfer from King’s Fork to Lakeland, was Lakeland’s starting quarterback and he’s the first string guy going into the season Ferebee said.

“Being here and in passing leagues helps us because we’re going to throw a lot this year,” Ferebee said.

Lakeland, King’s Fork and Nansemond River jointly host a 7-on-7 passing league through the summer.

King’s Fork’s the only one of the three Suffolk squads with a returning varsity veteran at quarterback, and the Bulldogs actually have two as Matt Hommell and DaQuan Fofana both took lots of snaps last season.

Hommell, a rising senior, led KF’s offense starting the day as KF beat Warwick 36-15. Fofana came on when KF faced George Wythe and won 25-6.

“We want to show we’re a team to compete with in the season,” Hommell said. “A lot of people like to overlook Suffolk teams but we’d like to show them otherwise.”

“Everyone makes the weight room. Everything about what we’re doing is a big chance from how it was, say, in my freshman year. The commitment is here,” Hommell said.

Similarly, when exciting plays and victories are nice in summer passing games, Tracey Parker’s focus for his Nansemond River program is building a complete team for when it’ll be fair game to hit the quarterback or a receiver leaping over the middle.

“For us, what’s most important is hitting the weights, running, getting bigger, faster, stronger. We play and compete in 7-on-7s and we work on executing, but it doesn’t do us a lot of good if we’re not getting stronger,” Parker said.

Junior Darwin Barbee, who started on the Warrior JV team last season, was the starting quarterback Saturday.

NR’s offense struggled to find openings against Lake Taylor, a perennial Eastern District favorite, and the College Ready Spartans, a passing-league-only team of kids looking to get scouted. The Warriors completed a good percentage of passes and won in their third group game against Prince George (Md.).

“(Barbee) had some big eyes at first today,” Parker said. “He progressively got better and it showed in the (Prince George) game.”

“It’s about getting the kids to understand and execute doing the things we have to do, the things coaches are telling them to do, so we can do what we need to for the season,” Parker said.