Ah, the traditional sounds of summer.
The “whap” of a ball smacking a mitt coming from the baseball diamond.
The squeals of delight emanating from the WaterPark.
And the barking of football coaches echoing through Harmon Field.
In the era of year-round sports, 7-on-7 football scrimmages in July have become a necessary evil to anyone who wants to still be playing in November.
“Whether I like it or not — because I came from a couple different eras here — it has become very important,” Wapakoneta Redskins coach Doug Frye said after a 7-on-7 Saturday.
“I know, talking to opposing coaches, they pretty well tell their kids — and we had a number of kids not here today — but they tell their kids the last two weeks of July you have to be at football if you’re going to win championships. I think it really is the major difference in football teams, the level of commitment. And that’s something we’re working on.”
Wapak is coming off a 7-3 season in 2010 and is looking for its first back-to-back winning seasons since going 7-3 in 1990 and 6-4 in 1991.
A lot of questions need to be answered in the coming weeks with a number of key players lost to graduation. And 7-on-7's give Frye and the staff a chance to evaluate the progress of the returning players and to see which new faces are most ready to make an impact.
Wapak has played in two 7-on-7's, one on July 16 against Delphos St. John's and a four-way scrimmage last Saturday against Coldwater, LCC and Sidney.
All four teams the Redskins have scrimmaged are poised for strong seasons and should be playoff contenders.
The 7-on-7's are played on half the field, with possessions starting on the opposing 40-yard line. There are no tackles or guards and no running plays or pass rush. The center snaps the ball and takes a knee. If the quarterback doesn't throw the ball within a few seconds, the play is whistled dead and called a sack.
Each team gets 10 plays on offense before switching sides.
While the exclusive emphasis on passing plays may seem pointless to a run-focused team, Frye says it's a great opportunity to add another wrinkle to the offense.
“Everyone knows we’re more of a running football team than we are a passing football team,” he said. “But we think offensively, that’s the edge that will take us to the next level. So we’re working on that.
“But more importantly, we’re trying to get our kids in shape and we’re trying to get our kids to play hard. When I can quit teaching those things, that’s when we start to turn the corner.”
And as the spread offense become more and more a staple of high school offenses, every snap defending the pass becomes valuable experience.
The first day of official practice for football is August 1. Wapak has full scrimmages scheduled at Findlay on Friday, Aug. 12 at 10 a.m. and Friday, Aug. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at home versus Minster.
The Redskins open the season at home against Bellefontaine on Friday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m.