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7-on-7 football gains in popularity

A new football option for 3rd grade through high school exists in Tiffin
A player on the Fire Dragons squad sprints for a touchdown in 7-on-7 football action on the Clear Creek Amana Community School District campus in Tiffin. The 7-on-7 program has gained in popularity and is expanding in Tiffin. (photos provided by Trevor Bollers)

TIFFIN– What is 7-on-7 football you ask? The answer is, the game that has grown for 20 years around the state of Iowa, but has not caught hold until now.
“There have been pockets of groups that play 7v7 or, High Schools that will get groups together to practice the passing game against each other, but that is really it. There is not a lot of competitive or youth 7v7 football being played,” said Trevor Bollers Director of Iowa 7v7 football, a non-profit organization he created along with his wife Jennifer.
The organization holds 7v7 tournaments through the Playmaker series and helps teams get started through the Grass Roots Program. Bollers hopes to expand the programs and events to all reaches of Iowa where it would be something new.
As indicated, 7-on-7 football is not a new game. It is put to use every day in practice by all tackle football teams while working on the pass game and pass defense. In 7-on-7 teams can run the ball but mostly throw it down the field.
Bollers indicated, “The part of what we are doing that is exciting to parents is that blocking is not allowed, and contact is limited to a single hand or fingertip touch or, getting bumped at the line of scrimmage.”
Face it; there is a lot of questions about tackle football at a young age and the effects of it on kids. Bollers, who didn’t start playing tackle football until 10th grade, believes 7-on-7 has soared in popularity with the parents of Iowa because the lack of contact.
The reason the kids are loving this game is a lot different than mom and dad; they all get a chance to touch the ball. Every kid on the field can run the ball and throw or catch a pass. There is no weight limit or size limits like in traditional tackle football, where if you are a certain size you can’t play quarterback, running back or receiver. The games are very fast paced and there is not a lot of time standing around.
“The kids love this so much that they have no clue that they are running for the whole game because they are busy trying to make that big catch,” chuckled Bollers.
The game is so new in the state of Iowa not all of the larger metro areas have teams yet, but that is quickly changing. The non-profit organization Iowa 7-on-7 football established the Playmaker series of 7-on-7 tournaments in Iowa. The events have expanded from one tournament with three high school teams in year one, 2018, to four events and 16 teams in year two, 2019. For 2020, the locations of the seven events show other communities are behind the game. In addition to the list of Tiffin events, there will be events in Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Durant and Oskaloosa. As for big events, the State Tournament is Aug. 1, and it is the first event of its kind in Iowa.
With all of the excitement, people who have kids in 3rd grade through High School are looking for a team to be a part of. Both Hot Feet Sports and Red Zone football Academy have registrations open for the 2020 season. There is major energy in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area that started with the Savages organization and have transformed 7-on-7 in the area to something with over ten teams starting this year. The Mahaska Marauders team hosts the State Championships on Aug. 1 in Oskaloosa Iowa.
“I am just blown away by the rapid growth but I knew that it existed,” admits Bollers.
The goal for 2020 is over 50 teams playing 7-on-7 across Iowa. Richard Carter former defensive back for UNI and Bollers former fullback at Iowa have both started groups fielding multiple teams. In 2019, the parents of kids that participated in one of the Playmaker events shared stories of the energy and fun their kids had throwing the football around. That interest cultivated the interest of many coaches and parents who did not really know much about the game but are willing to try it.
Bollers said many people reached out to him at Iowa 7v7 football. For more information on the program visit Iowa 7v7 football on social media at @iowa7v7football, on the Internet at www.iowa7v7football.com, or email 7v7@iowa7v7football.com. The season runs April through August.