by RANDY GREGORY
High school football teams across the country place highly divergent views on the importance of seven-on-seven passing competitions and the role they play in the success of the upcoming season. Many coaches stretch the rule to the limit and take full advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. Nike, Adidas and other sports-related firms have even gotten to the point of offering national events with players from across the country playing on teams comprised of several different schools’ players. A multitude of players who may have spent previous summers playing baseball, taking family vacations or just relaxing now find football to be a near year-round activity.
Consider Rockford Coach Ralph Munger to be one of the coaches who place a higher value on letting kids be kids and getting something of a break from the potential monotony of so much football.
“We really want the kids to be able to get a break from time to time,” said Munger. “The state of Michigan is one of the more restrictive states when it comes to how many of these events you can participate in, and we don’t even take full advantage of that. We ask so much of our players and coaches when the season begins and I think it is important for all of them to have some time to recharge their batteries and join with their families in doing other things.”
This summer the Rams will have competed with Kenowa Hills and Forest Hills Eastern in one seven-on-seven, Greenville in another, and Belding, Wayland and Byron Center in a third event. There is the opportunity to ply their wares against Shelby and Ottawa Hills in another seven-on-seven, but Munger isn’t even sure that Rockford will take advantage of that.
“We have had a fair share of success doing things this way for a long time now,” said Munger. “I think the benefit of how we do things has a far greater impact on the mental well-being of our kids as opposed to bringing them to one event after another. I think everyone knows that once the practices start, we are all football, but it can be a difficult task for 16- to 18-year-old young men to maintain that mental toughness necessary over the grind of a long season.”