NCFL teams compete in 7-on-7 state tournament

Ocala, Lake City, Alachua, and Lake Butler all represented in competition
It may be the offseason, but teams are getting their fall preps in
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 7:19 PM EDT
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THE VILLAGES, Fla. (WCJB) -There won’t be any helmets, shoulder pads, or tackling, but one of the premier football events of the summer is taking place this weekend at The Villages Polo Club. It’s the 7-on-7 State Championship, consisting of 64 schools.

North Central Florida teams Santa Fe, Columbia, Union County, Vanguard, Lake Weir, North Marion, and Forest are among those in attendance. The event is ideal for teams to get to work on timing and precision during the offseason.

“It’s a load of fun, and the kids get to compete against other people,” said Santa Fe head coach Joe Szymanski. “All year long we’re going against ourselves in practice, and this allows them to compete against some other competition.”

One of the more successful programs in the event’s recent history has been Vanguard. The Knights won last year’s title en route to an 11-1 record.

“During the summertime, tournaments like these really just help with team bonding and everyone building chemistry up for the fall, so we can go out there, beat everybody, and have fun while we’re doing it,” said senior wide receiver Lenard Hill. “It’s time to relax but we know this is a business trip.”

“It helps a lot,” said Vanguard head coach Edwin Farmer. “Our guys bring the football out to play a little ball and put in some plays on offense, kind of line up on defense, it’s a big benefit to us.”

While Vanguard is among the best programs in North Central Florida, teams like Santa Fe are looking to turn things around. Raiders receiver Kaleb Johnson believes the lessons learned from the tournament will go a long way towards lifting the team out of a downturn. Santa Fe went through a winless 2021 season.

“It helps us go through our pass concepts and helps our quarterbacks with their options, and helps receivers with their plays,” said Johnson.

Teams spend the day on Friday competing in bracket play. A champion will be crowned on Saturday.

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