ENMU to host 7-on-7 competition

By Dave Wagner
Sports writer
Teams participating in Eastern New Mexico University’s 7-on-7 football camp today won’t necessarily be working on what they’ll do when the season rolls around.

It does, however, help get them in the football mindset.

About 30 teams will take part in the all-passing event today at the ENMU practice field. The 7-on-7 squads will be divided into three divisions, while linemen participate in about 10 station drills.

Clovis High is hardly known as a throwing team, but veteran coach Eric Roanhaus said the Wildcats hope to put the activity to good use.

“It’s mainly passing (offense) and passing defense,” he said. “We’ll take whatever we can get out of it.”

The Cats, along with Portales High, will compete in the large-school division of the event, while both plan to have junior varsity squads in the smaller-school brackets.

Roanhaus, whose squad competed last weekend in a 7-on-7 at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, said most of the team’s skill players last season were seniors on both sides of the ball.

“We’ll try to work on our defensive schemes,” said Roanhaus, the winningest coach in state prep history. “We usually get more out of it defensively.”

ENMU football coach Josh Lynn, who has had the 7-on-7 now in each of his three seasons at the school, said the teams play on a 40-yard field, with a 10-yard end zone. Round-robin games are slated in the morning, with a single-elimination tournament following a break for lunch.

The event should end in mid-afternoon, and is open to the public.

Teams start at the 40 and have three downs to make 20 yards, Lynn said. If successful, they have another three downs to try to score.

Third-year Portales High coach Jaime Ramirez lost 16 seniors from last year’s squad, including 11 who were starters on at least one side of the ball.

“We’re just hoping to get better as a team and get our kids learning the system,” Ramirez said. “Some of those guys started (last year), some didn’t.”

He said 7-on-7s are a chance to work on the passing game.

“If we were going to run the ball the whole time, we probably wouldn’t do much of this,” he said. “But we try to stay balanced.”

Texico, which went 4-7 in then-Class 2A last season, is in the 3A division this year and the Wolverines will line up in an entirely new district, with Dexter, Eunice and Loving replacing Santa Rosa, Tucumcari, Estancia and Clayton. In fact, Texico now hosts its long-time rival, Santa Rosa, in the Aug. 29 season opener.

“We’ve got a little bit of a new passing scheme we’re trying to work in,” coach Ryan Autrey said. “We don’t (normally) throw it that much, but we just want to get out there and get into shape.”

Autrey, a Texico alum heading into his fifth season at the helm, is confident the Wolverines can bounce back from a rare losing campaign.

“We should be OK, if we can just put things together,” he said.

Five things to know about ENMU’s 7-on-7 football camp:
• Each game has a running-clock time limit of 30 minutes.
• The field is 50 yards — 40 yards for the playing field plus a 10-yard end zone. The offense has the ball at the 40 with three downs to gain at least 20 yards; if successful, it gets three more downs to try to score.
• There’s no running game. Teams can only advance the ball by passing it, and the quarterback has a four-second count to throw it.
• Squads include five eligible receivers, a quarterback and a center on offense and seven “skill’’ players on defense, some combination of linebackers and secondary backs.
• Players are in shirts ahd shorts. It’s one-hand touch to stop a receiver.