The Madisonville Mustang football players are keeping busy in the offseason in preparation for the 2018 season next fall.
This has included 7-on-7 competitions for the skill players against other teams in the area. The Mustangs have divided their relevant personnel into three groups and competed in two leagues over the past few weeks. Two of their squads have played at Bryan Rudder on Tuesdays and another at A&M Consolidated, Bryan and College Station High Schools on Thursdays.
“We utilize 7-on-7 with our kids to help them increase their repetitions in throwing and catching the ball, but we also look for leaders to emerge as we leave them in control of themselves instead of seeking a particular coach to lead them,” said Madisonville Head Coach Rusty Nail, who led the Mustangs to the Regional round of the playoffs in 2017.
7-on-7 is essentially football without guards, tackles or contact. There is one center that will snap the ball to the quarterback, who is required to pass on each play. The remaining five offensive skills players match up with seven linebackers and defensive backs on the defense side of the ball.
However, Nail is more interested in the benefits outside of the results themselves.
“We want the kids to experience the changes of momentum that often occur in 7-on-7 and see how they handle it,” said Nail. “Our offensive success will rely on our ability to run the football and mix in some play action, so the style used in 7-on-7 is not particularly advantageous to our team outside of throwing, catching and overall bonding.”
Team chemistry is always critical, but Nail has emphasized its importance since the team graduated a number of senior leaders from the 2017 squad.
“Anything we can do as a group at this stage is very important as we look for players to come forward and lead this team,” said Nail. “We will not be as talented across the board this year, so playing together and being cohesive as a unit will be vital to our success.”
Strategically, most of the football advantages obtained by the Mustangs during the competitions will come on the defensive side of the ball. Madisonville has used many of the same coverages they would during the regular season, so those advantages are more likely to translate.
“If you watch enough 7-on-7, you quickly realize that while it has its perks and purpose, it has very little to do with football in the fall,” said Nail. “Many teams will run gadget plays and formations particular to 7-on-7 competition.”