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Chaparral and Ponderosa advanced to the June 17 final day of the Denver Broncos 7-on-7 football tournament at the UCHealth Training Center in Centennial.
However, both teams were throwing passes that they might not be attempting during the regular season.
There were 22 teams that advanced to the single elimination finals of the four-day tournament, and Chap and Pondo were on the same side of the bracket.
Both teams lost in the quarterfinals and didn’t make it to a semifinal showdown.
Chaparral downed Chatfield, 47-17, in the second round but lost, 24-21, to eventual champion Denver South in the quarterfinals. Ponderosa topped Littleton 62-21 in a pig-tail first round game, then edged defending champion Eaglecrest, 45-35, in the second round before being eliminated in a 35-28 quarterfinal loss to Columbine.
“What you do in 7-on-7, you work on your timing, your drop, you work on your spacing, location of the ball, you work on the windows and your progression as a quarterback,” said Wolverines coach Rod Dodds. “We don’t develop an offense to go compete against a sevens defense. We go run our offense.
“We’re going to stay true to our colors and run our offense. I certainly wouldn’t be throwing the ball down there on the 3-yard line with the hosses we have up front. We have an O line that is going to be pretty darn good. We’ll average around 260-275 on the O line.”
Ponderosa coach Jaron Cohen had the same reaction.
“You don’t put too much stock in the winning and losing,” he said. “Obviously you keep score and want to win but it’s having your team together, having them be competitive, positively support each other, work out some of the coverages versus different route concepts and work out our timing.
“But we’re really built for putting our big boys down there. So to do this well in a 7-on-7 tournament was a lot of fun.”
Chap was a Class 5A playoff team last season that finished with a 7-4 record.
“We’ve made progress and not just this tournament,” Dodds explained. “What these kids have done since January in the weight room is add 850 pounds on our squats in our classes and their attitude is really coming around.
“We were playing a double nickel against South, which is a good team. They have a lot of good guys but so do we. We have a good core of receivers, our quarterbacks are competing and I saw our defense really step up. I saw a lot of good coverage. We made ton of improvement today. I’m really proud of these kids.”
Carnell Lewis, a 5-foot-6 Chaparral senior running back and defensive back, is one of those improving defensive players but admits he likes lining up in the offensive backfield better.
“This is my first year of playing defense,” said Lewis. “This tournament has helped me to make progress, make my reads and help the communication. You learn from it and when we hit the field we are going to be good.”
Ponderosa went 10-2 last season before losing in the 4A playoff quarterfinals and Cohen is optimistic after the Mustangs’ performance in the 7-on-7 tournament.
“That was the farthest we’ve gone,” he said. “To beat Eaglecrest the defending champion, Littleton and then lose in the last second to Columbine was really encouraging. It was a very exciting day for us.”
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