SPRINGDALE (KFSM)-- It may be the middle of July, but Arkansas high-schoolers are ready for football…sort of.
The Southwest Elite 7 on 7 tournament is in town this weekend, and that means no linemen, no pads, and no tacking. So as host school Shiloh Christian's head coach Jeff Conaway puts it "We know that this is not real football."
Still, there’s plenty that these teams hope to gain from the experience.
"We just like to preach go out and compete. Take the opportunity to go compete and represent your school," is what Jody Grant tells his Bentonville squad.
Mike Fauller, the head coach at Fort Smith Northside, looks at the tournament as a learning experience.
"It gives our kids the opportunity to get out here and run and throw and catch the football and play our coverages, so we gotta get better, we’re young."
Billy Dawson, in his first year as Fayetteville head coach, has the team stay at a hotel, despite also being one of the host schools.
"Staying together for the weekend, it’s kind of a retreat.. And some things on top of that, throwing and catching, you get to run around a little bit, some camaraderie; we’re looking to enjoy it. And so this will give us the opportunity to see some local teams and some teams from around the country as well."
All in all, 27 schools from six different states will be competing this weekend at three different locations, Fayetteville, Springdale, and Shiloh Christian.
"It’s pretty neat for our kids, we get a lot of teams in, you know, Aurora Illinois, we got somebody from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, it’s a pretty neat deal," says Dawson.
Coach Grant relishes the opportunity to see some future conference foes in action, but also says he "(likes) the opportunity to play some teams that you normally wouldn’t see"
And for those out of state teams, the chance to travel only adds to the event. Former Fayetteville head coach Bill Blankenship brought his new school, Owasso (OK) to the tournament for the first time.
"It’s a big time experience, and I just want our guys to compete. They’re excited to be here, they’re excited to be a part of it, but they’re also a little wide-eyed, they haven’t done it before."
Pool play took place Friday, and a double elimination tournament based on those results will be held Saturday at Shiloh Christian.