LHS hosts ‘Battle of 58’

Published 10:07 pm Saturday, June 9, 2012

Woodrow Wilson High School and Grassfield High School compete in the pool play portion of the 7-on-7 “Battle of 58” event at Lakeland High School on Saturday.

By Titus Mohler
Correspondent

The Lakeland High School football team hosted its first 7-on-7 passing tournament, the “Battle of 58,” on Saturday, drawing schools from all over Southeast Virginia.

Lakeland coaches Glenwood Ferebee and David Devers were the chief organizers of the event.

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“Just a way to help generate a little extra money for our football program and then a way to get extra work in for our kids,” Devers said.

Schools like Wilson, Deep Creek and Grassfield were present along with Lakeland, and each school was limited to rosters of about 18 players. The reason for the low player limit is that no linemen are allowed in this format, so teams only bring players that represent certain positions.

“Mostly (it’s) quarterbacks, linebackers, defensive backs, wide receivers, running backs,” Cavaliers defensive coach Kevin Knight said. “Just all skill positions, mainly, for this, and it’s a big benefit for us.”

Lakeland quarterback Zach Super looks to throw against Grassfield High School’s team in the “Battle of 58” on Saturday. Super was out for much of last season with an injury that required him to receive knee surgery.

Tackling, rushing the quarterback, and running plays were absent, because play was solely focused on passing and defending against the pass. Receivers were stopped by two-hand touch.

The schools competed in pool play during which each team present was guaranteed five 25 minute-games. Then, after a lunch break, the teams with the best records from the morning played in a single-elimination tournament.

Each field was staffed by two NCAA-certified officials.

Coaches cited several different benefits of the event, including it being an early opportunity for the players to gel as a team.

“From an offensive standpoint, we throw the ball a lot,” Ferebee said, “so it gets the timing and everything down and repetition of the plays just to the point where sometimes it becomes second nature when you get in game time.”

The opportunities for defense are somewhat limited by the format, but they still had plenty to do.

“For defense, they’re at a disadvantage,” Ferebee said, “but it also gives them a chance to learn how to drop into zones, get a chance to learn the zone coverages, and things like that, so when game time comes (and) we have to use them, they’ll know what to do.”

Coaches were also using the event to observe their new players and backups.

“It’s just a way for us to make sure we get a look at our first-stringers and then a good look at our second- and third-stringers in a semi-game format, before we head into two-a-days and all that,” Devers said.

“We’ve really used it as a time to come out here and evaluate our kids,” Grassfield head coach Martin Asprey said. “We use every tournament (as) an opportunity to bring newer kids, because we can only bring a certain amount.”

Lakeland quarterback Zach Super was enjoying the chance to sharpen his skills after having been sidelined for the majority of last season due to an injury that required knee surgery. He performed well as Lakeland went 5-0 during pool play.

“It really helps me out looking at defenses, and it’s going to help me out for the upcoming season,” he said. “I think it’s just good competition for every team out here and we’re just all out here working to get better.”

Lakeland’s last 25-minute session in pool play was against Grassfield and though his team lost, Asprey was complimentary and felt the Grizzlies profited from the game.

“That was good,” he said. “That Super kid, they need to go against a good quarterback. (That) kid’s good. I mean, he can throw the ball.”

For Lakeland, it was a positive step on the way to the 2012 season, but much work still remains.

“So far, so good,” Knight said. “Still got a lot of work to do as far as playing a whole four quarters, playing a whole game at a high level. That’s our goal. Play hard, fast for the four quarters.”

Kings Fork High School will play host to a major 7-on-7 event called the “Virginia State Peanut City Championship” on June 23.