I spend a lot of my very rare free time doing a whole lot of self reflection.
I sit and think about certain moves I made or experiences that I’ve had that shape the person who I am today. One of the best things that has ever happened to me was high school football. Once upon a time, I was an all region defensive back for the Woodland Wolfpack in Stockbridge, GA.
Although we only racked up a total of 6 wins (one less than our season win total at the end of my senior year) across my first three years, nothing beats the experience of being out there, under the lights, between the lines, and competing in front of a supportive home crown or a raucous crowd on the road with your brothers.
During a conversation with a friend, I described the experience of being on the field as “angelic,” whenever I stepped on the field for a game, as brutal as the game of football is, I often felt like I was floating on clouds. Playing under those Friday night lights didn’t even feel real at times, I often felt as if I was in a dream world.
I’m not sure if it was the field paint fumes going to my head, or the medium helmet that I would constantly squeeze into making me feel that way, but there was no time for questioning. I had to take it for what it was worth.
As glorious as all that may be, you just don’t step on the field and expect to perform to your capabilities without putting in the work to get there. One thing my wonderful mother was always right about is that what is done in the dark will surely come to the light.
Best believe that if you didn’t put the work in, unless the law of the land somehow went through a weird type of reversal, you will get smacked in the mouth by a team who committed themselves to the grind with the thought of getting smacked around haunting them.
I recently had the privilege of covering the Airo 7v7 Georgia State Championship tournament. Seven-on-seven tournaments have recently become a staple in offseason preparation. These tournaments afford coaches and skill players the opportunity to play around with different route combinations, coverage schemes and further scope out certain position battles.
The inner DB in me knows, and somewhat resents, how 7v7s are geared more towards the offensive side of the ball. There’s no tackling involved, receivers and running backs don’t have to block, and while there may be the universal four seconds for a quarterback to make a throw, it doesn’t duplicate the same effect of having defensive ends and linebackers rushing the quarterback.
With that being said, I fell in love with 7v7s, my first time ever participating, and every time I’m around it, I’m reminded of exactly why I grew so fond of it in the first place. My experience at the Airo 7v7 was no different.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to be around and talk sports in general, so there should be no surprise that just being within the same vicinity of a sporting event elicits similar feelings that exist when I’m actually playing.
One thing that was extremely apparent to me while covering the Airo 7v7 is that everybody from the players to the coaches came to compete. I was thoroughly impressed and moved by the energy coming from each field, and make no mistake about it, there were some absolute studs on full display making their case as to why they should be considered amongst the state’s elite student athletes.
The Eastside Eagles were highly impressive throughout the day.
A 7-1 overall record with a semifinals finish is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. The Eagles possess a solid bunch of playmaking skill players on both sides of the ball, and it was truly entertaining to watch receiver-turned-quarterback, Brayden Harper sling the ball around to all of the athletes who surrounded him.
Expect more of the same from Harper and this Eastside offense during the season.
Eastside’s athletic linebacker corps is expected to be the strength of their defense in the 2017 season, and they constantly helped stifle opposing offenses as they tried to move the ball downfield.
Alcovy also had their shine throughout the day as they continue to improve and compete throughout the summer. The Tigers finished the day in the top six of the tournament with a 4-3 record while falling just short of the semifinals with a loss in an overtime thriller against Morgan County.
As a former player, current journalist and, at my core, a true fan of the game of football, I was pleased with how serious the athletes and coaches took the opportunity to come out, compete, and get better. There are a lot of times when teams coast through opportunities like these because they feel as if they have no effect on the success of their season.
Call me what you want, but I am a firm believer in the importance of momentum in sports, and I believe that it is never too early to begin building your momentum and getting into a rhythm, and there’s no better way, in my humble opinion, to start building that momentum than by actually competing the same way you plan to on Friday nights.
My high school strength coach would always say that high school football is the purest form of football, and the older I get, the more I realize that high school football is a true gift and one of the best things this world has to offer.
I appreciate the teams at the Airo 7v7 for upholding the honor of the game and truly bringing it.
I overheard an Alcovy coach asking one of his players if his tank was running a little dry, to which the player responded: “Yes.” The coach replied, “Good. Now leave it all out here.”
To me, that described the true essence of what you should be doing every time you step between those white lines to compete. If you don’t bring the noise to a 7v7 tournament the same way you would an actual game, you’re missing out on one of the most beautiful aspects of being a high school football player.
Cameron Freeman is a summer intern for The Covington News. A former high school football player, Freeman will be entering his junior year as a journalism major at Georgia Southern. You can contact him on Twitter @_camszn or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.