High school football adopts 7 v. 7 format to combat COVID-19

Anthony D'Angelo and Brendan Kelly

To contain Covid-19, schools within Connecticut are playing 7v7, one-hand touch football as an alternative to the traditional 11v11 tackle format. 

Due to Covid-19 impacting the nation at such high rates, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) canceled football to prevent cases from continuing to spike.  The CIAC’s decision caused high school students and parents across CT to protest on September 9. This protest forced the CIAC to look for a solution to accommodate. This protest resulted in towns developing an alternative that allows the kids to play while minimizing the exposure to COVID-19.  Towns now have the option to play 7v7 one-hand touch football, where coaches and players wear masks when necessary (huddles, sideline, etc.); Farmington is one of the towns that has chosen to use this method of football.  

 Physical Education teacher and coach Ryan Leahy explained that this version of 7v7 is not your traditional touch football game. This change is demonstrated in both the point-scoring method and the fact that each team has precisely ten plays to complete a touchdown or field goal successfully.

Additionally, teams have to make it at least 15 yards to maintain possession; however, the number of plays is limited.  Players can now get points while on defense. For example, an interception is now 3 points unless made on the first drive; then, it’s 6. Whereas in tackle football, it’s just a change of possession. Linemen will not participate in the 7v7 games but will instead be competing in low-risk skill competition that will help contain COVID-19 while still allowing linemen to compete.

“The team has good strong senior leadership, the kids always have a good head on their shoulders, and there’s a promising future to come,”  Leahy said.

The CIAC enforces proper social distancing at these games; participants are taking additional measures to uphold these standards. The coaches are required to wear masks at all times, along with the referees, players, and spectators. Any out of town visiting spectators are not allowed in the games; only two people per household of a Farmington athlete can attend. 

These town regulations will make it a safer playing environment by following proper COVID-19 protocols, allowing football players to continue the season during these times. 

Connecticut may have canceled full contact football this fall, but there are talks of potential full contact play between the winter and spring seasons. It would be a shorter season, with a maximum of 5 games and no playoffs, but will still allow athletes to play regulation football. This modified season will only be possible if COVID-19 numbers and the Department of Public Health (DPH) says it is safe to do so. It is too soon for the CIAC to make any official calls due to the uncertainty of COVID-19. However, CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini is staying optimistic about the plan for this season.