ST. CHARLES – It was a classic summer football moment, especially for an incoming junior learning to navigate the varsity ropes.
St. Charles East receiver Morgan Flanigan was feeling pretty good about himself, not long after snagging catches on successive plays – one for a touchdown – during Wednesday night’s 7-on-7 scrimmage against East Aurora.
But after running the wrong route on a subsequent snap, the warm-and-fuzzy vibes abruptly evaporated as Flanigan caught a rebuke from assistant coach Shaun Ratay.
“That’s just repetition,” Flanigan said. “I saw something, but I didn’t voice it to the quarterback. That’s just something I’ve got to start learning to do.”
No sweat, in Saints coach Mike Fields’ view. Such teachable moments are precisely what events like Wednesday’s low-key scrimmage are for.
Coaches on both teams interrupted play to make their points, which Fields said is the way he thinks 7-on-7s ought to operate. Fields said he only likes scheduling 7-on-7s with other programs that share that philosophy.
“The approach that you can have at a 7-on-7 and I’ve seen over the years, is you’re either real competitive and you want to win and keep score, or you coach it,” Fields said. “We coach. We want to coach the kids and we want them to understand, here’s your responsibility.
“If you know it, great, let’s execute it, let’s get good at it. And if you don’t know it, why don’t you know it? This is what you’re supposed to do. We coach them.”
Flanigan, looking for opportunities in a receiving corps led by Division I prospect Brannon Barry, earned kudos from the sidelines after a slick move resulted in his TD reception from quarterback Mitch Dupuis. Like Flanigan, Dupuis is trying to catch the attention of the Saints’ coaching staff as East senior Jimmy Mitchell is a returning starter at quarterback.
“The corner, he was playing up on me, and when he’s playing up on me, I like to go deep because I think I can beat him,” Flanigan said. “So when I saw that, I got pretty excited.”
East’s defense, too, looked sharp at times, as it attempts to retool in the aftermath of heart-and-soul linebacker Joe Hoscheit’s graduation.
Junior cornerback Matt Dorsey had a nice break-up on one Tomcats deep ball, and said 7-on-7 competitions are crucial for the defense.
“Our offense is pretty much run-based so it’s good to have these guys come out so we can get a lot of reps in when they’re throwing deep balls, just getting used to the routes they’re running so we can get used to what we’re going to see during the regular season,” Dorsey said.
The Saints have two more weeks of summer camp scheduled before taking a break leading up to official, preseason practice next month. East opens the season a day later then most area teams, Aug. 31 at South Elgin.
Wednesday night’s scrimmage might have been therapeutic for the Saints, who have endured an emotional week. Many of the players have grieved alongside teammate Mitch Munroe, whose father, Scott, died Friday from cancer at age 53.
Fields said football has been a distant afterthought for the Saints lately.
“That’s a life lesson,” Fields said. “That has made them bond that much more.
“They’re a great group of kids to be around, and they’re a lot of fun to coach. I think they’re going to do good things.”