It’s the biggest and best free agent crop in NBA history with none other than LeBron James entertaining potential employers in his hometown. It’s the mid way point in the baseball season and the All-Star game is next week at Angel Stadium. So let’s talk about something that’s really important – High School football passing leagues.
If it’s July the passing tournaments are in full swing and this year more than ever. Teams lining up against each other and throwing the football used to be a once a month affair- something to do to break the monotony of practicing amongst yourselves. Now it’s happening three or four times a week all through the summer.
With no CIF restrictions in time frames you can throw all year if you want to. Some teams started passing back in April and it will continue all the way through August.
And it’s no longer just a two team scrimmage. Now there are usually at least four schools that attend any given passing tournament with sometimes as many as 10 or 12.
Last week at Arroyo six teams came out to throw – two teams squared off at each end of the field while the other two warmed up and waited for their chance.
Back in May 16 teams came out to participate in a passing league in Crescenta Valley. It’s not unusual to see the number of schools in the double digits.
This Saturday the SGV Shootout features 18 teams at Gladstone High.
The fans have gotten into it as well. Many observers, parents and football fans alike, come out and line the field with lawn chairs to watch the action with coolers and barbecues at the ready.
A couple of weeks ago at the Air Assault there were 30 schools that flooded into Bonita High School. Some were locals but others drove in from way out of town to attend the event. Squads from Arroyo, Los Altos, Covina and Pomona didn’t have too far to travel but Ventura St. Bonaventure, Riverside Poly, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Newhall Hart also made the trek. It was that big of a deal.
Talk about making a drive. Arroyo and Monrovia drove out to Las Vegas a few weeks ago to play in a passing league in the desert with several other schools. No, it wasn’t a vacation for the coaching staff. Arroyo ended up winning the whole thing.
For some schools its now part of their routine work out schedule. San Gabriel throws twice a week as does Los Altos.
“We go every Tuesday and Thursday and will be all the way though the summer,” said San Gabriel Coach Jude Oliva.
Although winning the tournaments might not be the primary objective for the coaches involved it is a good indicator of how your team is doing.
Some coaches have mixed feelings of how important the passing tournaments are.
“It might not mean much without pads and helmets but it gives you an idea of how good the skill position players are,” one local coach said. “It gives your quarterbacks a chance to learn their reads and get their timing down.”
Linemen don’t participate in the seven on seven contests. They get involved in their own competitions at various locations. Because of this some coaches haven’t completely bought into the passing hype.
“Winning a passing tournament has no bearing on the regular season. There are so many variables. Running the football behind a big line will win you games and the lineman aren’t there. So it doesn’t mean much,” said another local coach.
For us at the Mid Valley it’s not about who wins either. Believe me we aren’t keeping track of an afternoon toss at San Gabriel. It’s about snapping shots, getting some scoop, and making connections. It’s about getting our reads and timing down and seeing what kind of skills we have. Hey getting a good shot isn’t easy.
It’s about getting ready for the football season. Just like the teams on the field.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.