A-K Valley football teams set for annual Freeport 7-on-7

Monday, July 12, 2021 | 12:20 PM

With the start of preseason high school football campst five weeks away, Freeport coach John Gaillot hopes Wednesday’s locally infused Freeport seven-on-seven event will help serve as a springboard to the final series of summer workouts and also generate excitement for the start of the 2021 season.

Seven schools — Valley, Springdale, Apollo-Ridge, Highlands, Armstrong, Knoch and Slippery Rock — are scheduled to join the host Yellowjackets for a series of matchups.

“We love the local feel to this,” Gaillot said. “I know the players, coaches, parents and Freeport community is excited about it, and the other teams coming in are excited.”

Six teams took part in the first Freeport seven-on-seven in 2019, and Gaillot said then he hoped to make it an annual happening.

The covid pandemic put a stop to plans for last year’s event, but Gaillot said he is pleased the excitement is back and the anticipation keeps growing for a competitive environment of football.

“Last year at this time, we really weren’t sure if we were going to be playing football in the fall,” Gaillot said. “There was so much uncertainty. There is a lot of excitement building for the season, and this, hopefully, will be a good way to get people energized. It should have a Friday-night feel.”

Gates open at 4 p.m., and the players and coaches will meet with the referees for a rules-review session at 5. The games will begin at about 5:30.

Two games will be on the field inside the track, and two others will be on the turf at the stadium.

“We will continuously rotate (the matchups), so there will be games going on for several hours,” Gaillot said.

The goal of the evening is to have each team face the other seven in pass-game sessions. Gaillot said seeing a variety of pass styles and pass coverages will benefit each squad.

“This is a great opportunity for each team to get in a lot of work,” Gaillot said. “Each team has been working hard throughout the summer so far, and this is just a continuation of that. We want the competitive nature, but we want to do it without anyone getting hurt.”

While the seven-on-seven games are played, the linemen from each team will have their own big-man challenge series with a bench-press contest and other tests of quickness, agility and strength.

As it is on Friday nights, this competition will be a collective effort among the linemen.

“There will be points earned for each event, and we will tally them up at the end to see who wins,” Gaillot said. “There are a lot of cool things in there.”

The challenge also will feature a relay race and tug-o-war on the turf.

“All of the skills guys will be there cheering on their teammates (for the tug-o-war),” Gaillot said. “It was really cool to see the last time.”

Admission is free, and food and refreshments will be available.

A series of heat acclimation workouts the week of Aug. 9 will lead into the start of the official preseason practices Aug. 16.

The first scrimmages will be Aug. 21, with the second scrimmages or Week Zero games set for Aug. 27.

“The teams know each other really well,” Gaillot said. “We’ve been at other seven-on-sevens together. It’s just another chance to test what each team has in a pretty competitive environment.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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