Cardinals get tune-up in 7-on-7 tournament

Elizabeth coach checks out new players' performance


A cloudless sky, bright sunshine and warm temperatures provided perfect baseball weather, but football was the focus for the athletes from Elizabeth High School and 14 other schools who gathered at Englewood High School on May 31 for the 7-on-7 tournament and hog relays.

“We graduated a lot of senior from last season's league championship team, so we are just learning who our new kids are, and this type of activity gives us a chance to see what they can do,” Cardinals Coach Chris Cline said during a break in the action. “We are in the middle of our summer camp and we have a good turnout, so this at least lets us see how they perform against other teams.”

The event consisted of two different competitions. In one area, the focus was moving the football in the 7-on-7 competitions, which are all-passing, touch football tournament involving backs, receivers, linebackers and defensive backs.

At the same time, events like the sled drive, tire toss and pole hang test the endurance and strength of linemen.

The 15 teams were divided into three pools of five teams each for round-robin competition. Based on pool play records, the top teams advanced to a tournament to determine the event champion.

Elizabeth finished 2-2 in pool play and advanced to the tournament. The Cardinals played Englewood in the third-place game. Elizabeth finished fourth as the Pirates scored a late touchdown and conversion to win the game.

Cline used the event to look at the performance of a number of players. He moved athletes in and out of the lineup and had them in different positions. Each game has a time limit, and Elizabeth was moving the ball pretty well against George Washington when the horn sounded, ending the contest.

Looking ahead, the coach said he expects the Cardinals defense to be strong again. When Elizabeth has the ball, the game plan is to have a balanced attack by mixing the running and passing plays.

“Our quarterback from last year graduated, but we have three players we looked at today,” he said. “We rotated three players in every other series. We have a kid who was hurt most of last year, plus we have a junior and a sophomore. We are having each of them get some work throwing the ball today.”

He said he has talented athletes ready to move into the skill positions, but the question mark is the makeup of the offensive and defensive lines.

“We had four senior linemen graduate,” Cline said. “Filling those roles will be the test, because you never know how the new players at those positions will perform until they get into full-contact competition.”

State rule changes a few years ago allow teams to have a two-week contact camp and one scrimmage during the summer.

“We are in the middle of our camp with about 50 players,” Cline said. “But we won't get to scrimmage. We couldn't find a team that wanted to scrimmage us. We tried, but most of them either had scrimmages already planned or didn't want to go against us.”

As a result, the Cardinals will open the season in the so-called zero week, as they will play Sierra at home on Aug. 22.

“The zero-week game isn't my choice,” the coach said. “We would rather have the work, get to see the guys in full contact with the summer scrimmage, and build from there as we go with a regular schedule. The teams with eight or nine wins all had scrimmages booked and the other teams didn't want to go against us. So we will go through camp and play that zero-week game. I don't like it, but that is how it is.”


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