A Pineville quarterback throws a pass to a receiver against the Knox Central defense in a 7-on-7 game at Union College. 

Photo | John Dunn

7-on-7 football has been growing in popularity for over the last decade or so. It allows teams an opportunity to practice against unfamiliar looks and schemes, as well as, allowing them to practice closer to game speed. Without pads, players run plays just as they would in a real game. However, plays are blown dead when it is determined that a defensive player would have made a tackle. 

The Knox Central Panthers squared-off against the Pineville Mountain Lions at Union College on Tuesday evening, with each team looking to get some extra work in.

Knox Central coach Fred Hoskins sees the 7-on-7 summer matchups as an opportunity for his team to work on their communication, timing, and defense.

"It's big in all areas of the game," said Hoskins. "Offensively, it allows us to focus and get some extra work on our formations, timing, and communication. For us, the main focus is our defense. We are working on getting lined up, recognizing formations, and communicating defensively. We kind of go into these scrimmages with the mindset that we are there to focus on defense."

After being unable to participate in 7-on-7 games last season, Hoskins remarked how pleasant it was to be back to normal. 

"It feels awesome," he said. "We went last week over in Middlesboro, and it dawned on me that most of our guys have never even gotten to do this before. It's great. These guys are excited, and it's good to get to come out here and watch them compete and have fun and be kids. It's been 18 months since they've got to be kids. It's real exciting just to be out here and have the opportunity to do this."

With one 7-on-7 game already under their belt, Hoskins detailed how the Panthers look at this juncture of the summer. 

"First and foremost, we always try to go as hard as we can, no matter what we're doing," he said. "We did a good job of that last week. Communication wasn't the best defensively, so we've got to get some guys talking back there. Offensively, I thought we actually looked better than expected. We've got a bunch of kids that can catch a football, and two kids that we think can really throw ball."

"Our main focus is to try to get depth and get ready. That sounds pretty simple, but football is a pretty complex sport, and a lot of folks don't realize that," he added. "We've got guys learning terminology, plays, and new positions. A lot goes into this, but that's the fun part; getting them ready."

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