NEW RICHMOND - It football's cautionary summer tale, but it still holds true.

Everyone looks good in shorts. Well maybe not good - you guys know what I'm talking about there. But hey, they look like potential players.

But, another cautionary tale, wrapped up in a cliche, goes like this: When the pads come on, it separates the men from the boys. And that brings us to the increasing abundance of 7-on-7s we've seen over the years.

What seemed like a fad has become the norm.

While you can debate their usefulness until the cows come home, consider, they are good for something or these coaches would not waste time doing them.

And just about everybody is doing them.

And if you keep a score, you keep a record and Wyoming East put up a fantastic 20-2 mark.

But what they got was a lot more than that.

"We were able to install all of our passing offense," first-year Wyoming East coach Larry Thompson said. "That was a big thing for us to accomplish during the 7-on-7s. Get the passing in. Get the timing down with our quarterback and the new guys we have on offense. It gave our linemen a chance to work on our pass-blocking schemes. And I think we were able to get all that done and we had a good time doing it."

New guys indeed.

Seth Ross, who has completed 172 passes for 2,099 yards and 15 touchdowns, has thrown touchdowns to eight different receivers over the last two seasons.

During the recent three-week practice window, he threw touchdowns to eight different receivers during five 7-on-7s.

In addition to Jake Bishop, Caden Lookabill and Caleb Bower, who have caught TDs in the regular season, he also found Anthony Martin, Brandon Simpson, Chase York and Brandon Houck, as well as Summers County transfer Keandre Sarver.

That adds a lot of firepower.

"That's the great thing about these 7-on-7s, you can install a whole passing game," Thompson said. "Defensively you can work on coverages in your secondary. Lineman usually do their thing with different challenges. You can get a lot of things accomplished with the 7-on-7s.

Wyoming East attended 7-on-7 challenges at Nitro, Chapmanville, West Virginia State, Richwood and Princeton.

"We felt like we got to face some great competition across the boards. It gives the kids a chance to see somebody else and it gives us a chance as coaches to figure out who we can use where," Thompson said. "It's a great situation and I think it helps promote what we are doing and we can get some work done at the same time."

Now, when Thompson, in his first year at the helm, returns in August (they will also use some flex days to start during the week of July 29, like most teams), he will only have to install his rushing attack.

With Caleb Bower and Alex Hall back in the fold at running back, Bower a veteran and still a junior, that won't take long.

Look, 7-on-7s have their naysayers.

Of course it's not on pads, of course it will be different when they do have pads on.

But if it didn't help, it wouldn't be done and in Wyoming East's it's already paying dividends as we March toward August.

Email Independent Herald reporter Dave Morrison at dmorrison@hdmediallc.com.

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