7-on-7 Football Season Better Than Nothing

Nonnewaug%27s+football+season+was+a+bit+different+than+it+was+in+2019%2C+as+pictured.+The+Chiefs+participated+in+7-on-7+football+in+their+new+co-op+with+Sacred+Heart+and+Kaynor+Tech.

Carolyn Montero

Nonnewaug’s football season was a bit different than it was in 2019, as pictured. The Chiefs participated in 7-on-7 football in their new co-op with Sacred Heart and Kaynor Tech.

Travis Bambino, Sports Reporter

WOODBURY — The 2020 high school football season across Connecticut were canceled due to the concerns of the spread of COVID-19. The CIAC made the decision as it felt it was not safe to play a normal, organized football season with the potential of players spreading the coronavirus to one another.

However, the CIAC did not want to take away the season all together. As a result, they supported an alternative way of playing a football game. 

The rules consisted of a four-quarter 7-on-7 game, with all players required to wear masks. The first two quarters consisted of linemen participating in competitions that included power- and strength-based activities. After that, seven players, consisting of a quarterback, receivers, and defensive players would take the field, with only one lineman allowed to snap the ball. After those two quarters, their scores were totaled up, with a winner being determined based on points scored. 

Ben Conti, a junior and a quarterback of Nonnewaug’s co-op team with Sacred Heart and Kaynor Tech, felt the masks made it harder with running and doing high output activities then what it used to be.

“Wearing the masks was the only thing that affected me because it made it harder to breathe,” said Conti. 

Overall, though, the idea 7-on-7 games was favored by some of the players.

“I had a good time being at the 7-on-7,” said Cody Kelsey, a senior lineman. “It was nice to have something in place of the regular season even if it isn’t much.”

Conti agreed, but he thought the CIAC could have organized the idea better by making a league instead of teams scheduling their own games. 

Some players rather would have played a season of contact football, but are still grateful for the opportunity to play football at all.

It was upsetting that I didn’t get to play a full tackle season,” said Kellen Herman, a senior center. “But at least I got to play in some kind of football competition with my friends in my last year.” 

One of Nonnewaug’s games this season was against Naugatuck, as this was the first season of the co-op football team with Sacred Heart and Kaynor Tech players. However, due to concerns about players mixing with one another and spreading COVID-19 amongst one another, Region 14 superintendent Joseph Olzacki required adjustments to the way the team had to play.

Nonnewaug players played an offensive and a defensive drive, and then they switched with Sacred Heart and Kaynor Tech players. The plan seemed to work in the team’s favor, as they continued this all game and ended up winning. However, due to the lack of linemen, no lineman competitions were held.  

While the high school season was modified, tackle football was still available for high schoolers in Connecticut. Independent teams with no official affiliation to any high schools had the ability to play for a few weeks in the Connecticut Independent High School Football League. Those players were allowed to play as long as they covered all skin and wore a plastic shield over their face mask.

However, players shared their skepticism about the idea, feeling that not all players would follow those rules and thus increase the spread of COVID-19.

“I feel like football would have been safe to play if everyone had to do that, but [I’m] not sure how realistic it would be,” said Kelsey. 

All in all, the 7-on-7 season was enjoyable for the players. Although they had some kind of football season to have fun and connect with their teammates again, they also wished the CIAC could have done a better job of organizing it so the players could get more out of the football season.