While most of us will be spending the next few months traveling, surfing, relaxing, and pretending to work out, there is a small, hard working group of teenagers all over the country who will be doing exactly the opposite: high school football players.  Regardless of the level, football players around the country are spending their summers getting up unnecessarily early, practicing, lifting, memorizing their playbooks, training, and drinking protein shakes in preparation for their fall seasons.  While spring ball is when these athletes spend time in the weight room bulking up, summer ball is when they take the time to hone their skills and build team chemistry.  This is the time for coaches to teach their players the ins and outs of their playbooks, and then see who emerges on top with the right to start in the fall.

SDSU Passing League 06_19_09 from Sports Force on Vimeo.

In order for coaches to test their kids in game situations and in order for the players to gain valuable playing experience at their respective positions, passing league tournaments are run all over the country to satisfy that competitive need.  Throughout the “off-season,” football players are put through rigorous training sessions with the expectation that by the time summer rolls around, they will be in top physical shape.  Finally, come late May, they have the opportunity to show off their hard work on the field at a passing league tournament.  A passing league game features all offensive and defensive players, with the exception of lineman, squaring off without pads or helmets.  In this two-hand-touch, 40-minute game, crisp passes, precise route running, and lock down man defense are the keys to victory.

The premier passing league tournament in Southern California and maybe the entire Southwest is held at San Diego State University in the middle of June.  As it is one of the last passing tournaments for most teams, everyone’s game is in top form.  SDSU’s tournament is unique in that not only do the top local teams across all leagues get the opportunity to compete against one another, but they also get to face top competition from out of state.  In playing teams like two-time defending 5A Division II Arizona state champs Marcos de Niza and 5A Division I Arizona state runner-up Brophy College Prep, local San Diego and Southern California teams get a look at tough Northern California and Arizona opponents.

Not only is this a great opportunity for the high school athletes and coaches, but the new SDSU coaching staff is given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Southwest recruiting landscape.  New head coach Brady Hoke, who most recently led Ball State to an undefeated regular season, and his staff are able to catch a glimpse of some of the top California and Arizona prospects.  With all of the best teams in attendance, they can’t help but notice this new and different talent.

After the smoke cleared and the dust settled from the aggressive play of all 35 teams in attendance, the Arizona schools proved to be too much for the rest of the competition.  All boys Catholic school Brophy College Prep of Phoenix defeated public school Marcos de Niza of Tempe in the championship game.

With June winding down and passing leagues coming to a close, it is back to the daily grind for these players and their coaches. Between practices, lifts, and drills, these athletes will spend the rest of their summer eagerly awaiting their opportunity to shine under the Friday night lights.

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