MINDEN – There are no pads or tackling, and wins are meaningless during summer seven-on-seven high school football games. Coaches realize, however, that the effort put in during July will pay off when regular season play kicks off in the fall.
More than a dozen high school programs were on hand Friday when Douglas High School hosted its third annual Flying Tigers Passing Tournament on a hot day at Keith Roman Field.
For fans, it was an opportunity to watch some of the North’s top prospects for the upcoming season. For coaches, it was all about putting players on the field to prepare for the regular season.
Tournament games were played on a 40-yard field with no pads and no tackling. A 40-minute running clock was used and there was no special teams play. Touchdowns were worth seven points. Good defense was rewarded as well, since three points were given for an interception and two points for a defensive stop.
Fallon, the defending state medium schools state champion, went 4-0 during the tournament. The Greenwave went 12-1 last year with 12 straight wins after dropping a 34-23 decision to Tokay (Lodi, Calif.) and 10-2 in 2014.
“We ran our schemes and got to look at a lot of different kids, so we felt good about it,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “We got a little tired at the end, but it was a hot day.”
Christian Nemeth, a junior, is the Wave’s new gunslinger after Connor Richardson departed from last year’s squad. Nemeth, who played on JV last year, will have a seasoned group of receivers with Conner Nelson, Cade Vercellotti and Brock Uptain running patterns.
“He’s been working real hard and getting a grasp at what we do,” said Hill, whose offense runs out of the pistol formation. “We’re real pleased with progress he’s made. He’s got some talented receivers.”
Fallon will face a formidable challenge to start their regular season, including a preseason scrimmage on Aug. 19 at Carson and then the regular season and Northern 3A conference opener Aug. 26 at Fernley.
Hill noted that the Greenwave participated at the Gold Beach Football Camp (Gold Beach, Ore.) in June along with teams from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Canada.
“We’ve had a good summer,” he added. “We’ve got a lot of kids showing up and working hard.”
Even though Douglas lost all four of its games, including a one-point decision against Sierra League rival Galena, coach Ernie Monfiletto was upbeat about how the Tigers played.
“I’m excited,” said Monfiletto, who is entering his fifth season as the Tigers’ head coach. “I think we were better at the end of the day than we were at the start. We just need to work on getting better. Our goal is to improve with every game and every snap of the ball.”
Hunter Hickey, a junior quarterback who has moved up from the JV squad, is now competing for the varsity starting job.
“I thought Hunter grew a lot today,” Monfiletto said. “And our receivers ran good routes.”
Phillip Lopez, another junior, provided a highlight when he caught two touchdown passes for the Tigers against Fallon at the end of the day.
Likewise, Douglas is preparing for what promises to be a highly competitive Sierra League campaign. Defending champion Carson figures to be strong again, but coach Blair Roman said he expects Damonte Ranch, Galena, Bishop Manogue and Douglas to all be formidable foes this season.
“Reed and ourselves have kind of been out front by ourselves the last couple of years, but now things are going to be coming back down to earth,” said Roman, whose Senators went 2-2 during the tournament. “I think it’s going to be very competitive up North.”
The passing tournament serves as good preparation both offensively and defensively.
“The thing I like about seven-on-seven is you get to see defensive backs cover for a long time and you get to see the receivers work to get open,” said Roman, a quarterback at Douglas in the 1980s. “It’s great for developing chemistry between QBs and their receivers.”
Thomas Ranson contributed to this story.