How are the defending Illinois Class 8A state champions preparing for the upcoming season? By competing in the USA Football 7on7 this summer.
Maine South (Park Ridge, Ill.) is led by David Inserra, who has been with the team for over 16 seasons. Like last summer, he plans to enter his team into multiple 7on7 events to help his squad improve.
Inserra believes 7on7 has contributed to the success of the team, which upset Marist in the Class 8A title game a year ago. The Hawks have won four state championships in the last nine years.
For Inserra, 7on7 is an opportunity for his team challenge itself against other teams similarly looking to improve and gel during the summer months.
“It’s a chance for guys to get out and throw in a slightly more competitive situation,” said Inserra. “Find some guys who can make plays and bring teams together.”
Allowing a high school team to bond simply is not possible when 7on7 events are focused on all-star teams, comprised of athletes from different schools.
For Inserra, the only way to do 7on7 is together, as a high school team.
“I’m not a fan of the travel teams. We try to keep our kids away from it,” he said Inserra. “I think some of the tournaments do a great job of saying, ‘This is for high school teams only,’ and I think that’s the way it should be.”
At the Chicago USA Football 7on7 later this month, Maine South will be competing against other top Illinois programs, such as Wheaton-Warrenville South, Waubonsie Valley and Montini Catholic.
From there, Inserra expects to head to Canton in late July for the 7on7 National Championship Series.
“(Playing other top high school teams) gives you a competitive environment against teams you don't normally see, a higher caliber team that will force you to improve,” said Inserra.