By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
So you’re heading to Tiger Field the Belton 7-on-7 Lone Star Shootout Tournament and you see all of these eye-popping scores that are appearing in our game recaps for 7-on-7? Do the rules sometimes seem a little hazy?
No worries! I’ll give you the scoop on one of the fastest growing summer sports in the country: 7-on-7 football.
As conventional American football concentrates on the 11-on-11 game, with linemen, a running game and a passing game, 7-on-7 football stresses the passing game, including route-running and pass coverage.
Sometimes the games are high scoring with lots of touchdowns and conversions. Other times the defensive play is so intense that scores are locked down into single digits.
And, not unlike Texas Friday night football, either case does exist at any time.
Belton’s 7-on-7 Lone Star Shootout encompasses all that is unique about one of America’s fastest growing sports. Here are the tournament rules for this weekend’s tournament:
1. Personnel. Each team will have seven defenders and five receivers, a center/snapper and a quarterback on the field.
2. Possessions. Each possession starts on the 45-yard line, so only half of the football field is used. It is similar to arena football, but the arena game is 50 yards and goes in both directions.
3. Field zones. The dimensions of the fields are 45-yards long by 160-feet wide. The end zones are 10 yards deep. Field zones are the 45, 30 and 15-yard lines. You get three downs to advance from the 45-yard line to the 30-yard line and three plays to advance from the 30-yard line to the 15-yard line. In regular 7-on-7 rules, you get four downs to get into the end zone from the 15-yard line. In the Lone Star Shootout, they will get three shots.
4. Scoring. A touchdown is worth six points in standard 7-on-7 play and you get the option of going for a single-point on the 3-yard line or for two points on the 10-yard line. In the Lone Star Shootout, it is worth seven points unless you choose to go for two points. Then it is worth six points and two more if the conversion is successful. An intercepted conversion attempt is two points for the defense. There is no kicking in 7-on-7.
5. When does the other team get the ball? Possession changes after a touchdown, a two-point attempt, an interception or a turnover.
6. Interceptions. In standard 7-on-7 play, an interception can be run back for a touchdown. In the Lone Star Shootout, an interception is worth two points and no runbacks after the interception, as the defense is awarded the ball.
7. Four-second rule. In standard American football, there is play clock and no time limit on when the quarterback has to throw the ball, as he has an offensive line to block for him. In 7-on-7, there is a four-second count after the ball is snapped. It does take some getting used to. Many sophisticated offenses and leagues, like the Arena Football League, predicate the success of offenses on quick reads and pass releases. In 7-on-7, it helps with that facet of the game.
8. Timing. Games are on a 30-minute running clock for pool games and early rounds of the tournament without a halftime. In the bracket rounds, they will be 40-minute running clock games, with halftime for the semifinals and championship round.
9. Formations.Every formation must be a legal formation. A team can have a player in motion, like conventional 11-on-11. But a team cannot have two players simultaneously in motion.
10. Where are the running plays? In standard 7-on-7 rules, there are no running plays. In the Lone Star Shootout, the quarterback can run the ball one time per possession. No other player may run the football or receive a lateral.
11. No back passess…no bounce passes. All passes must be forward passes. Double passing is not allowed.
12. No State of Liberty plays or Hook-and-Laterals. No laterals are allowed after a reception.
13. Bringing a receiver down. One-hand touch is considered a tackle.
14. FUMBLE?!?!?! The ball is dead when it hits the ground and the offense keeps the ball. No fumbles in 7-on-7.
15. Why don’t players block? After a catch, there is no downfield blocking. This displays the talents of the receiver and produces some exciting plays, not to mention lots of yards after catch potential.
16. Play clock. The play clock is 25 seconds from the spot of the ball to get the next play off. Unlike a delay of game penalty that would cost a team five yards in football, the penalty is loss of down.
17. Pass interference is costly! Defensive pass interference for the Lone Star Shootout is an automatic first down at the spot of the foul. Interference in the end zone results in a spot of the ball at the 1-yard line. Offensive pass interference is double jeopardy, as it constitutes not only loss of down, but also a 5-yard penalty.
18. Defensive holding. The penalty carries a five-yard walkoff and an automatic first down for the offense.
19. Being too tough has team-based consequences. Any unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty will result in a warning and a 10-yard penalty. A second offense will result in a 10-yard penalty and a player ejection. Fighting can result in team disqualification.
20. Overtime. In Lone Star Shootout pool play, there will be no overtime. In the bracket play, the NCAA tiebreaker system is used with alternating possessions starting at the 15-yard line. A team must go for a two-point conversion every possession in overtime.