Regular-season high school football practices don’t officially get underway for two months.
Games are closer to three months out.
But, it’s certainly not too early to start thinking about Friday night lights on the Plateau.
On Saturday and Sunday, 27 high school teams, composed of 700 players and coaches, converged on Skyline High School for the second annual Skills and Drills on the Hill — a 7-on-7 passing tournament, lineman challenge, and kicking and punting competition.
Scores and results weren’t officially tallied for the passing portion of the tournament, but Skyline head coach Mat Taylor said the importance of these kind of events are invaluable.
“You start to develop that competitive edge,” he said. “We always tell our kids in the game of football you only have so many opportunities to play games. I read somewhere that 90 percent of your preparation is practice. So, we’re trying to create a more competitive environment for the kids.”
Under sunny skies, teams from as far away as Ellensburg, and as close as Issaquah, Eastlake and Eastside Catholic, fine-tuned their passing routes and defensive coverages by playing five to six games a day.
“We brought 30 guys,” Issaquah head coach Chris Bennett said. “We’re not really too worried about the score, but execution and them learning the system and trying to get reps.”
While competition remained mostly light-hearted, there was no hiding a little added intensity when rivals Issaquah and Skyline squared off Saturday morning.
“Both teams are already talking (about) week four this year, but that seems so far down the road right now,” Bennett said, laughing. “The more kind of pressure situations and the more kind of intense situations they can participate in, hopefully that pays off down the road.”
Sophomore quarterback Max Browne led the Spartans to what appeared to be a couple more touchdowns than the Eagles, including a connection to a high-flying Kasen Williams that drew plenty of “oohs” and “aahs” from observers. Ethan Kalin also connected with a couple long strikes for Issaquah, including a deep bomb down the middle to Evan Peterson.
Along with passing competition, the big guys also to show off their skills in the lineman challenge. Athletes displayed their strength and agility by throwing large car tires, pushing trucks, bench pressing weights, running through an obstacle course and rolling tractor tires. They ended the event with a tug of war.
Eastlake beat defending champion and Plateau rival Skyline, along with approximately 17 other schools to win the overall lineman championship.
“We were pretty excited to have our guys finish on top,” head coach Gene Dales said.
New to this year’s event was a kicking and punting competition, which was held Saturday.
High school football teams will continue with similar tournaments and team camps until Aug. 1, when they will take a break until team practices officially begin statewide, on Aug. 18.
The next large tournament for area schools is this weekend at the University of Washington 7-on-7 tournament.