School might not be over, but for a handful of Hays and Lehman high football players, putting in the work toward next season unofficially got underway May 30.
By competing in the San Marcos 7-on-7 league, members of both Hays CISD squads hope they can turn a glorified drill into success come November and December. But perhaps more importantly, those who take part aim to bolster team unity and cohesion well before they put the pads back on in August.
Lehman High freshman Bryant Lewis said going through 7-on-7 drills has helped the Lobo program come together as a unit, rather than focusing on just the individuals.
It’s part of a brotherhood aspect the Lobos are carrying over from working with new head coach Bruce Salmon, and that brotherhood helps players avoid negative attitudes toward each other.
“Instead of getting mad at each other, we cheered each other on and we were hyped up,” Lewis said. “We didn’t let up like usual.”
Hays junior Quaysean Cropper, who took part in his first 7-on-7 experience, also saw how 7-on-7 fosters brotherhood among the ranks. Cropper said going through 7-on-7 brings players together, but also keeps them in a competitive frame of mind, to where players can bring “that dog out of us.”
“It’s great because we’re coming together like brothers and we’re just trying to hit it hard and get ready for August,” Cropper said. “We’re playing our hearts out and, like anything else, we hate to lose.”
The path toward competing on May 30, however, has been carved over the past month or so. Hays High sophomore Grayson Winter said the Rebel 7-on-7 team has been training for competition for the past three-plus weeks.
Coaches who are not part of the schools’ athletic departments run practices and games. Winter said Hays and Lehman squared off in an “intense” scrimmage a week before the San Marcos tournament.
During the practice and games, Winter said players worked on a handful of 7-on-7 plays that helped to improve momentum.
“We just kind of showed out and what we can do today,” Winter said. “We really wanted to just get a groove and get our feet going.”
Lehman High junior CJ Scott, who has played in 7-on-7 for the past three years, believes it plays a grants insight on how players handle adverse situations on the field. Scott said learning those lessons to overcome issues now pays dividends when the spotlight shines on Friday nights.
“The other team is going to score, and it shows how you handle it, how you handle being down a touchdown and forces you to respond,” Scott said.
On the field, Lehman’s group finished the day with a 2-0 mark, scoring wins over Canyon Lake and Seguin. Hays’ team went 1-1, with a loss to San Marcos, which was followed by a win over Wimberley.
Lewis said the Lobos initially came out sluggish in their first game against Canyon Lake, but recovered to end the day.
“It was like we were a little asleep, and then we woke up in the second game,” Lewis said. “I knew I had to come out strong because if we didn’t, it wouldn’t have turned out like it did.”
Cropper said the overall experience was “great,” and that it allowed the Rebels to take on strong competition.
“We’re just clicking together and it’s going to make us better when we get our pads on and get ready for the season,” Cropper said.