GREENVILLE — As the end of July nears, so does final summer preparation for the upcoming high school football season.
On Tuesday at Legacy Field in Greenville, four teams competed in a 7-on-7 passing camp, some for the final time this summer. The host Yellow Jackets welcomed the Lakeview Wildcats, Carson City-Crystal Eagles and Fulton Pirates on a beautiful, yet windy evening.
Each team competed against each other for 40 minutes, 20 minutes on offense and 20 minutes on defense.
For Greenville, this was its fifth 7-on-7 passing camp. The Yellow Jackets visited Rockford and Alma once and hosted three at Legacy Field.
Greenville coach Dave Moore was impressed with last week’s performance and said his team played even better on Tuesday.
“I thought we played pretty good a week ago and I thought we did much better today,” Moore said. “That is what you really want. The improvement we made in a week’s time I thought was really good.”
The key for Greenville may not be noticeable to the fans in attendance, but the coaching staff sees it and came away happy.
“It’s more the little things that we do now,” Moore said. “Everyone already knows where to go offensively, but it’s how to run and how to get there. Knowing when to keep running or pull up in a hole, it’s things like that we are doing much better.”
Another key for the Yellow Jackets has been the excitement.
“One thing I think that has been great all year long is the enthusiasm,” Moore said. “That part of this has been awesome all year, even in conditioning.”
The Yellow Jackets went 4-5 a year ago for the second consecutive season. They begin the season on the road against Belding.
The Lakeview Wildcats are still learning a new offense and defense under new head coach Sean Rinehart. On Tuesday, Rinehart said there are things to work on, but his team is understanding what is supposed to be done.
“I thought there were some little things, that we all saw as a team, we need to work on like just running crisp routes,” Rinehart said. “But what I thought we did really well was understanding the offense. We are understanding our concepts and the game around them.”
Playing against three different style offenses, the Wildcats are still in learning mode defensively.
“Defensively, I think we are coming around. A lot of the stuff they did last year is different from what we are doing now,” Rinehart said. “There is a learning curve. Last week at camp we covered some basic stuff and I think we took it a step further this week.”
One thing Rinehart preaches is not to be afraid to make mistakes, especially from his quarterbacks. He does not want his team playing scared.
Tuesday night, quarterbacks Nate Shurlow and Shawn Lindsey made some mistakes, but were well aware of what they did wrong.
“They threw the ball really well, but what I was more proud of was they recognized their mistakes,” Rinehart said. “They are not perfect, they will make mistakes and they recognized it before I even have to say anything. That makes me happy to be a coach.”
Lakeview went 5-4 in 2012. They open the season at home against Morley Stanwood.
Carson City is coming off a 7-3 season and the second postseason appearance in school history. But like Lakeview, they are transitioning with a new head coach in Devin Pringle.
Pringle said his team struggled on Tuesday, but had played really well in prior 7-on-7s. He is using Tuesday’s performance as a learning tool.
“We got a little spoiled. We had some success in some of the early 7-on-7s and things got a little shaky today,” Pringle said. “We have to learn to respond the right way. You learn things and today is a teachable moment that says in football, life, marriage and a job you will have moments where things rock and shake. You have to respond the right way.”
Being a run dominated team doesn’t translate well to 7-on-7s, at least offensively.
“We have a lot of young kids in new spots. We are a Wing-T, run dominated team and we don’t expect to dominate at 7-on-7s,” Pringle said. “We want to do what we do and be better at it. I’m proud of our kids. We will get better.”
Pringle said he was glad to have some adversity prior to the season.
“We fully expect to be in the mix for a league title this year,” Pringle said. “The previous 7-on-7s we’ve done real well. I’m glad this happened now. It lets us know we might not be as good as we think we are and we still have some work to do.”
The Eagles open the season against Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary.
After two hours of football, the Yellow Jackets grilled hot dogs for the participating players and coaches.
Greenville has one 7-on-7 left (July 31 at Alma), while Lakeview and Carson City-Crystal are finished.