View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 6/10

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso
Posted: June 15, 2010 - 6:24 PM

School has been out for about a week around the metro and the summer football season is in full swing. Almost every team is in some kind of 7-on-7 league and many have already had an early camp or two.

I was out at Shawnee Mission South Monday night and saw a few players that could stand out. Lawrence Free State’s Desmond Wyatt made an immediate impression on me. He is quick with good hands and the junior could be making some big plays on both sides of the ball for the Firebirds this year.

The amount of players participating in 7-on-7 in the summer continues to grow. It used to be that weights and the summer camp were the majority of the activity for high school players. Most were off working or playing baseball or in summer basketball leagues if they were multi-sport athletes.

All of that changed as the passing game became more and more entrenched in almost every program in the Metro. Early in the 1990s teams like Blue Springs brought in the run and shoot and the last 10 years have seen the spread, or some form of the spread, take over.

This change is easy to see as more and more schools want to be competitive each and every week. A coach once told me the easiest way to compete at the high school level was to spread the field and try to create one-on-one matchups with your best athletes. While not every school has five to 10 monsters to put on the line to run the ball, almost every team can find a quick agile receiver or two and a quarterback who can sling the ball around.

Let’s be honest, it is fun to throw the ball around and try to beat people in open space. All you have to do is look at a 7-on-7 game and you will see that kids love to play these positions and this style of football. Speed is the greatest equalizer and even the smallest schools or schools with low turnout can find three or four speed demons.

A school such as St. Thomas Aquinas has the opposite problem. The Saints always have large numbers for football and especially for 7-on-7. The Saints will not only field a varsity and junior varsity squad this summer, but Mike Thomas also plans on a sophomore and freshmen teams.

“Right now we have almost 30 juniors and seniors and a few sophomores up with the varsity,” Thomas said. “Then we will have sophomore team of about 22, 23 and a freshman team of about 30 since all freshman want to be defensive backs and wide receivers. We will have about 90 kids out.

“It’s everything. It’s like open gym for the basketball players. You get your timing done. You get to work on different plays. Some of the kids are coming over and saying can I try wide receiver, can I try defensive back you never know maybe you’ll be a defensive back this year.”

The summer is now full-time football for many players. One good test for a program’s strength is the number of kids who sign up and come out for summer camp. Liberty North is a new school and the Eagles had more than 100 sign up for camp and saw most of those show up every day even with some hot weather at the end of last week. The Eagles may not be the best team in the metro during their first year, but enthusiasm is high and that is just what a program needs in the summertime.

Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach him send e-mail to