Airline 7-on-7 tournament Friday at Freedom Fields

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Friday’s second annual Airline 7-on-7 Football Tournament at First Baptist Bossier’s Freedom Fields won’t exactly be a sneak preview of the upcoming season, but it will be a chance to see some of 2016’s potential stars.
The 11-team tournament starts at 8:30 a.m. with group play. After a lunch break from 1-2 p.m., there will be a single-elimination tournament.
In addition to Airline, teams competing are West Monroe, Huntington, Minden, Logansport, Ouachita Parish, Captain Shreve, Parkway, Harmony Grove, Ark., LaGrange and defending champion Evangel Christian.
Airline coach Bo Meeks said the tournament ran smoothly last year so there won’t be any major changes this year.
“We found some things we could do administratively a little bit different, but as far as the setup and the single-elimination and allowing teams a break between each game, we feel like that went well,” he said.
7-on-7 football, which has been a staple of high schools‘ summer workouts around the country for many years now, has an all-passing, non-contact format. Players wear helmets, shorts and t-shirts. Tackles are made by either a hand touch or pulling a flag.
The field is generally about 40-45 yards long.
Meeks said winning the title isn’t the most important thing Friday.
“The biggest thing we want is for it to be a place where teams can come and get good work against good competition, not so much worried about being 7-on-7 champions and a lot of extra stuff,” he said. “Just a good opportunity to get together and play.”
The tournament features two teams — Parkway and Evangel — that reached the semifinals of the playoffs last season. The Panthers made it in 5A and the Eagles in Division I. Both lost to the eventual state champion.
The Panthers and the Eagles have two of the most talented quarterbacks in the state.
Parkway rising junior Justin Rogers hasn’t started a game yet, but he’s already received offers from Arkansas, Louisiana Tech and Missouri. He passed for 464 yards and seven TDs in a scrimmage against Ouachita in May.
Curry, a senior-to-be passed for 1,709 yards and 19 touchdowns last season and is being recruited by several big-time programs.
Parkway also features rising junior receiver Terrace Marshall Jr., who has received offers from just about every major program in the country, and Robert McKnight, a Texas-San Antonio commit. Of course, there’s no guarantee all the players will be there as some could have other commitments.
West Monroe is a perennial 5A power, but the Rebels are known mainly for their run-oriented option offense. Logansport reached the Class 1A quarterfinals last season.
“It’s great for the fans to watch, but for us to be able to get great work against great competition is not going to do anything but get us all better,” Meeks said. “It’s a great group of schools and we’re excited they are choosing to be a part.”

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com