Pro Football Hall of Fame Embracing Football’s Next Big Thing: 7v7 Football

March 8, 2018

Event Platform Showcases Local Teams, National Championship and Latest Army Technology for High School Coaches and Athletes  

The next big thing in high school football is called 7v7, a summer football competition sweeping the country, featuring thousands of high school teams competing in an exciting one-day or multi-day pass-dominated competition. Now, thanks to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, coaches and athletes get access to the latest football technology, courtesy of a college coach who works with the U.S. Army on a platform called GoArmy Edge. If this sounds like the future of football, it is.    

Almost 5,000 high school football teams play 7v7 football annually in local, regional or state tournaments. Some events are hosted at high schools and some at colleges with many events featuring a lineman challenge. Teams play 4-6 games over the course of one day in pool and bracket competition. An athlete is ruled “down” when he is contacted by a defender with one or two hands. The non-contact nature is helping to fuel the growth.  

High school teams compete in these events looking to prepare for the upcoming tackle season. Although the final score is important, coaches see these events as a team-building opportunity. Until a few years ago, 7v7 football had not been connected with any state or national championships, but that is all changing.  

The Pro Football Hall of Fame, in partnership with Legacy Global Sports, has set out to organize this emerging world.  Representatives have built a 7v7 network in 22 states over the past few years and have hosted close to 1,000 7v7 teams and coaches. The top teams from each region travel to Canton, Ohio, to compete in a national championship at the new $800 million football complex at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. NFL stars and Hall of Famers visit many events to talk to teams about football values. 

“We played in the regional 7v7 event in Western Pennsylvania last year and loved it,” says 2017 Charleroi High School Head Coach Donnie Militzer. “We also played in Canton at the Hall of Fame and had a tremendous team experience. The Hall of Fame values blend perfectly with our high school football ethos,” stated Militzer.     

One of the chief architects of the platform is Rich McGuinness, who created the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in 2001, an event that annually featured the nation’s top preps. McGuinness sold his interest in the event in 2015 and soon after joined Legacy Global Sports and the Hall of Fame to build out this new 7v7 world. The goal – connect the high school football world through 7v7 regional competitions and a national championship. 

McGuinness talks about the perfect storm. “Football has turned to a pass-oriented game at all levels – NFL, college, prep and youth – and 7v7 has become the vehicle for athletes to enhance their skills in this new football world,” McGuinness stated.     

While running the U.S. Army Bowl, McGuinness met more than 1,000 high school coaches and now sees many of them on the 7v7 trail. 

“These coaches are so patriotic and love the Army,” McGuinness says. “They are excited about our connection through the GoArmy Edge program.” 

The GoArmy Edge program is led by college coach Rob Everett, who travels the country to educate coaches and athletes about the Army app that is designed to help athletes and coaches prepare for games in a virtual environment. 

“This a game changer,” says Everett, “when we get a chance to show coaches and athletes on-site how to practice smarter and win in a virtual and non-contact environment.” The technology was first on display in 2017 at a 7v7 event in Alexandria, Virginia.  T.C. Williams Assistant Coach Tyrone Stewart said “the technology was eye-opening.”    

Overseeing the national 7v7 platform for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is Gary Howard, a former high school coach and long-time national scout. Howard explains the growth behind 7v7 football. “It is exciting, affordable, and promotes team unity,” Howard explained. “7v7 is not just booming in Florida, Texas and California but in the Northeast and Northwest like Boston and Seattle, respectively. Given the growth curve, we expect to be in 30 plus cities come 2019,” Howard predicted.  

Watch out America. The face of high school football is changing and a new brand of football may be coming to a city near you.

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