MRA assistant coach John Weaver talks with his Patriots squad at the Medicomp Physical Therapy 4th annual 7-on-7 tournament.
MRA assistant coach John Weaver talks with his Patriots squad at the Medicomp Physical Therapy 4th annual 7-on-7 tournament.
MADISON - There was plenty of talent on display Thursday morning at Madison Central High School, as four area schools - including Madison Central, Ridgeland, Morton and Callaway High School - took part in the first 7-on-7 football camp of the summer.

As temperatures soared, so did the competition on the field in an event that is annually the first football action of the new year. The teams all played one 20-minute scrimmage against the other three in the style of a skeleton passing drill - without pads, linemen or a running game.

It might seem toned down, but it was not.

At one point in the final session, Jaguar junior wideout Ken Sadler snagged a pass on a crossing pattern, juked a Callaway safety out of his shoes and dusted the rest of the Charger defense in a race to the end zone, sending the Madison Central sideline into a frenzy.

"I've never seen a Madison Central team have as much fun at a summer camp as our guys had today," Madison Central coach Bobby Hall said. "We're having fun because we have good players. Our guys on defense were really hawking the balls and making plays, and on offense we've got some playmakers."

Sadler, who is built in the mold of a poor-man's Darren Sproles, is certainly one of those playmakers.

"Oh yeah - he's quick," Hall said. "He's fast, too. He's an electric player and he's going to be important to us next year. He's a fine young man, too."

Hall, as always, was quick to point out that a lot of what he's trying to do in the offseason is develop maturity as well as physical ability. The ninth-year Madison Central coach said he's put an emphasis on character development this off-season.

"Our whole body of work for the summer is about work ethic and attitude," he said. "They've been good so far. There are no character issues on this team, and no drama."

On the other side of the field, Ridgeland coach Kenny Burton said he's looking for improvement out of his Titans, which finished 7-5 overall and 5-2 in District.

Like Hall, he's got a couple of options at quarterback, but was most excited about the development of running back Kam'Ron White, who will only be a sophomore next year and already appears one of the biggest and strongest backs in the metro area.

"He's going to be one of the strongest and most athletic I've ever coached," Burton said. "That's for sure."

As Burton said, it's far too early to try to draw any conclusions from these 7-on-7 camps, which will continue through the month of June, every Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10 a.m. at Ridgeland High. But that doesn't mean it isn't good for the players to get out of the weight room and onto a field.

Plus, for any football fan, it's nice to see the football flying around in the month of June.

"These events are great," Burton said. "That's why we do them. It's a great way to break up the monotony of the weight room during the off-season."

Attendance is free at all 7-on-7 events. Remaining events will likely include more teams, and be played in both the stadium and on the practice fields at Ridgeland High School.