By Erik Harris
HOOVER – Clay-Chalkville head football coach Jerry Hood stepped off the scorching turf in Hoover High School’s Buccaneer Stadium on Saturday with a smile on his face. Perhaps, he was thinking about the physical practice sessions he’ll be conducting next month, when the pads go on.
Hood, a believer in the run-first offense, had just seen his Cougars get eliminated from the National Select 7-on-7 Tournament by a desperation hail mary, which was plucked down by Carver-Montgomery’s Xavier Lane.
Lane’s leaping effort sent Carver onward with a 24-22 victory over Clay-Chalkville, who earlier lost to McGill-Toolen by a count of 31-24. The second loss ended the Cougars’ tournament run, launching the transition from summer workouts to fall camp.
Clay-Chalkville will now enjoy some time away from the game, reporting back for duty on Thursday, July 30.
“Let me tell you something. The whole first week of practice will be runs and defense against the run, because we’ve got a full summer of throwing [under our belt],” said Hood.
Grayson (GA) 25, Clay-Chalkville 24.
Clay-Chalkville 26, Fayetteville (AR) 17.
Clay-Chalkville 21, Glendale (MO) 20.
Hillcrest (SC) 34, Clay-Chalkville 16.
Clay-Chalkville 23, Madison Central (MS) 7.
McGill-Toolen 17, Clay-Chalkville 14.
Clay-Chalkville 24, Naperville Central (IL) 17.
Clay-Chalkville 32, Bergen Catholic (NJ) 25.
McGill-Toolen 31, Clay-Chalkville 24.
Clay-Chalkville 28, Centennial (GA) 16.
Carver-Montgomery 24, Clay-Chalkville 22.
The Cougars finished the 32-team tournament with an overall record of 6-5, despite playing without All-State wideout Nico Collins.
“We just had to use our other receivers, so they came in, stepped up and made things a lot easier for me,” said Clay-Chalkville quarterback Ty Pigrome.
Hood believes his team can grow from its National Select 7-on-7 experience, but doesn’t put tremendous stock into the scoreboard. He stated that 7-on-7 champions don’t necessarily convert into high school football state champions.
“While it is a good for the kids and it’s a great time for us to be together, I don’t put a lot of stock in it because there’s no [pass] rush,” said Hood. “If you get the ball inside the ten, there’s a good chance you’re going to score, because the variables don’t change.”
“Even if we had won the thing, I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it,” Hood said. “It’s fun to do and good for the kids.”
Hood does see certain aspects of the tournament translating to the game field. The extremely high level of competition that faced the players over the weekend will prepare them for tough competitors that surely wait on the 2015 schedule.
“These are the best teams in their state all across the country,” said Hood. “I really do believe this will translate to the field in 2015: [We’ve] played that caliber athlete, so when [we] see that caliber athlete on the field, we know that we’ve got to go and step our game up and be a little smarter. I think there is some advantages to that.”