Pirates host 7 on 7 football tourney

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Footballs instead of baseballs filled the air June 1 as Englewood hosted a 7-on-7 all-passing touch football tournament and a Hog Challenge, which is a series of physical and agility events for linemen.

This year, 15 teams took part in each of the tournaments. Elizabeth won the 7-on-7 tournament by defeating Fairview, and Englewood lost two games but came back to finish third.

Columbine won the hog relays and Englewood came in a close second.

“It was a good day for us and a good way to start preparations for our 2013 football program,” Pirates coach Jay Graves said. “All our guys did well. We have a whole new backfield, but our young kids stepped up and did a great job for us. Sophomore Carlos Valdez and seniors Chris Gutierrez and Isiah Mestas did very well for us. Also, even though we’ll be starting three sophomores, 0ur linemen did very well in the Hog Challenge. They finished high in just about every category, from weight lifting to the sled pull, so they took runner-up honors behind Columbine.”

Assistant coach Andy Cornell provided tournament results showing the Pirates were 3-1 in pool play, qualifying to advance to the championship playoffs. The Pirates lost in the quarterfinals to Columbine by four points, but came back to win two straight games over Skyview and the Columbine B team to finish third.

Senior Chris Gutierrez was the Pirates’ leading receiver in the tournament.

“It is a lot of fun and it helps a lot to get thinking about football, even though it is still summer,” he said during a break in the action. “I play both offense and defense. I like offense because it is fun to score touchdowns. But I like defense too because I like hitting people.”

Teammate Tyler Harris said it was good to be back on the football because he has been missing football since last season ended.

“I think we’ll be improved this season. We should have a strong defense and we have a lot of speed on offense,” he said between times on the field. “This is my senior year and I have worked hard to come in at the best shape in my high school career. I have dropped about 10 pounds and I am stronger and faster. I can’t wait for football season to start.”

The June 1 tournaments are part of the summer program for Englewood football. The tournaments came on the Saturday between the two weeks of Pirates contact camp. It used to be that coaches could not officially work with players during school summer vacation. The rules changed about five years ago, permitting two weeks of contact camp, which could include scrimmages.

The Pirates took the field May 28 for the first day of camp. The first three days, players wore helmets, jerseys and shorts. The fourth day they put on full pads, and full contact drills were permitted. Englewood wraps up its camp June 6 with scrimmages against Littleton and Lincoln.

Englewood plays in a number of 7-on-7 tournaments during the summer, which this year will include the Broncos-sponsored tournament. There will be 64 high school teams in that tournament June 19-22. The teams are divided into four-team pools and play a round-robin schedule. The Pirates begin play at 10:30 a.m. June 19 at Denver All-City Stadium. They are in the same pool with Kennedy, Legacy and Sheridan.

The pool play winner advanced to the final single-elimination tournament at Dove Valley June 22, with the tournament champion earning an all-expenses-paid trip to Cleveland for the National Football League 7-on-7 high school tournament

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