RICHLANDS, Va. —
A group of Richlands football players will participate this weekend in the national championships of the elite 7on7U organization in the Washington, D.C. area.
The group, led by Richlands High School head football coach Greg Mance, is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning at Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington with a photo session, followed by pool play competition.
A banquet with a motivational speaker is set for Friday night. Saturday starts with elimination-round competition, and the national title contest is slated for 6 p.m.
The weekend plans also include a tour of Washington sites such as the White House, Capitol, Lincoln Memorial and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
“It’s a great opportunity for our kids,” Mance said.
He said the squad went to a qualifier in Staunton, Va., and placed third earlier this month.
The top two teams from the qualifiers were eligible to go, but one had to cancel and Mance got an unexpected phone call.
“I think a lot had to do with our past history,” he said of the invitation.
He said the team won a similar competition involving “40-some teams” in 2006 at the University of Virginia, and finished second the following year. In 2005 and 2006 the team was third at Wake Forest. His 2010 team finished first at Marshall University and this year’s edition came in third at Marshall last month.
The summer events, which usually include “five or six” competitions, helps Richlands-area players improve and learn the system run by Mance’s successful program with the Blue Tornado.
“When they enter the first day of practice, our passing routes are in,” he said. “The kids will know the routes, and they will learn how to adjust routes and where to run in different coverages.”
Similarly, with linebackers and defensive backs, “You get to put in your packages, and different coverage concepts,” Mance said.
He added that head junior varsity coach Frank Daugherty works with students through most of June and July.
The benefit to the varsity program is “tremendous,” Mance said.