GREENVILLE – Greenville football coach Aaron Shaffer saw plenty of positives during his teams’ first 7-on-7 practice on Thursday.
The Green Wave hosted Brookville and St. Henry for nearly three hours at Harmon Field and Shaffer walked away with a good feeling, he said.
“Today was a good day I thought,” Shaffer said. “We wanted our kids to come out and play with energy and enthusiasm and to compete and I think we did all those things. Obviously this is still very early in the summer and there are things you have to get cleaned up, but we also saw a lot of really good stuff today.
“It’s all about getting reps and learning,” he continued. “We were able to split our guys up with our older guys and younger guys and really focus on the things we’ve been working on in camp the last three days. As far as the passing game goes we’ve got to focus on running strong routes with clean spacing and the quarterbacks have to make good decisions and communicate well with receivers and running backs. On the defensive side we have got to communicate our coverage and know what our reads are and really be fundamentally sound and not cheat because we know it’s going to be a pass.”
Shaffer said he was kind of surprised with how far ahead the younger guys are in the mental part of the game.
“We may be a little ahead of years past in terms of our understanding and what we’re trying to do from our young kids all the way up to our older kids,” Shaffer said. “A lot of times early in the summer the younger kids struggle with learning the concepts and being where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. Today, we probably had fewer breakdowns in that arena than maybe we’ve had in this 7-on-7 in previous years, so it’s real exciting to see where we are at on the mental side of it, and for that matter the physical side. I saw some kids make some really good plays.
“For the older guys we don’t change a whole lot so it’s just minor adjustments for them when they come in,” he continued. “Last year we did it like this, but this year we are going to do it this way. Fortunately, we have a lot of guys returning in our skill positions that have been on a field on Friday night so most of them know without having to do much teaching. They’ve got it so we can work on the finer tings rather than the bigger things.”
Today, Greenville will compete in another 7-on-7 with some tougher competition at Welcome Stadium in Dayton. The Green Wave will play four 40-minute games where score will be kept and game clocks will be used.
“They will be more like game situations and it will give us a chance to get our feet wet under fire with down and distance stuff rather than just running set up plays,” Shaffer said. “It does take you to another level in terms of the structure of a 7-on-7, but we will be down there with teams like Wayne, Miamisburg and Belmont, so the competition level gets tougher.
“Today was a day where we could slow down and if anyone needed to line something up it can be done,” he continued. “It’s more of a coaching day where tomorrow is more having to learn it and go on the fly. It will be a lot faster then it was today. We will be running offensive and defense on and of the field just like a regular game with three downs to get a first down.” Shaffer said his team will play Wayne, Belmont, Miamisburg and Jackson (Mich.) at the event. Game times are 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon.
Shaffer also commented on Wednesday’s announcement that his team will play Chaminade Julienne on Sept. 6 in a Week 3 contest as part of the Fox 45/ABC 22 Thursday Night Lights event.
“I think it’s good for high school football and it’s nice to be asked to be involved in it,” Shaffer said. “It will be a big game for us. CJ obviously is a tough opponent. We’ll ride down on a Thursday night with TV cameras all around and being the only game in town and it ought to be a good experience for all of us. It’s going to be fun and I think it will be a really neat experience for our kids.
“Hopefully we put ourselves in position where we go down and play well and come away with a ‘W’,” he continued. “But obviously there is a lot of work to be done between now and then. We have two other games with Eaton and Stebbins before that, so two quality opponents there and we can’t look too far ahead. But it is fun to know that we have a chance to do something only 18 other schools are getting a chance to do. I think it is good for high school football and it’s good for our kids to go out there and represent Greenville well.”