The Woodland Wildcats, whose offensive prowess has helped define the program for years, are putting a defensive twist on the games, which feature seven players on the field for each of two teams, while also hoping to reap offensive benefits.
Vince DiLorenzo, Woodland head coach, said his team will attend two camps — Dalton and Calhoun — this summer and also will be involved in at least three such practices with Adairsville High.
“We have individual 7-on-7 dates with Adairsville,” DiLorenzo said. “Coach Eric Bishop and I see this as a good teaching session for our teams as well as a chance for our teams to have competition. It is permissible under the rules. You can have them as long as there are no pads.”
DiLorenzo said he and his staff are expecting several types of dividends from the camps. “We want to develop a personality of competition for our team.”
He said the camps are geared toward different results.
“Dalton has high schools from different states coming in in what will be a true competition,” the coach said. “We will play a set number of games then turn to a pool to finish out the games. We will have a champion at the end of the camp.”
He said the team’s trip to Calhoun should yield more about x’s and o’s for the team.
“We’ll have coaching on the field with the players and there’s going to be more teaching,” he said. “After our trip to Dalton, it will offer us a chance to correct mistakes.”
He said Woodland will get a chance to flex its competitive muscles from the practices.
“It’ll give our kids a chance to line up against someone who is trying to beat us,” he said. “Hopefully that will bring out our competitive spirit as well as test our mental and physical toughness.”
DiLorenzo said Woodland hopes to gain on both sides of the ball through the practices even though they are considered more of a boost for offenses.
“The 7-on-7 is a passing competition,” he said. “You don’t run. A lot of people believe it is not real football because there is no contact, but there is. There are people with other colored jerseys. Our secondary and linebackers will get a chance to compete on the defensive side of the ball.”
He said he sees improved defensive play as a key to the Wildcats’ won/loss record.
“Although Woodland has always been offensive-minded, one of our biggest concerns as a team is to play better defense,” he said. “If you can stop people from scoring, you have a chance to win yourself.”
He said all teams want to be known as physical and he believes coaches now will be looking at developing through less contact as a way of reducing concussion risks.
DiLorenzo said that will change the nature of practices some.
“You want to structure practices where the likelihood of injury is lessened,” he said. “Using the 7-on-7 is one way I hope to be able to do that.”
The Wildcats presently plan to entertain Adairsville on June 27 and July 9 with the 7-on-7 practices.
Woodland then visits the Tigers on July 23.
“We may try to get in a fourth practice,” he added.
The coach noted the Wildcats and Adairsville don’t play each other in the regular season.
“We scrimmage against Cartersville or we might have asked them,” he said. “You’d rather be doing this against a team you don’t play. You don’t want to be in a position where you show them something you might try to use on them later on.”
He noted both he and Bishop are the newest coaches in the county.
“Eric is like me, a new coach, and he’s trying to build something in Adairsville,” he said. “We will work together to get the most possible out of these.”