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Cardinals take to gridiron for summer session

Elizabeth holds hit camp, plays in 7-on-7 football tourney


The “boys of summer” generally refers to baseball players but it also applies to Elizabeth High School football players.

The Cardinals recently completed their full-contact summer camp and then took part in the June 14-17 Broncos 7-on-7 football tournament.

“We have a strong program and urge the kids to take part in off-season activities to stay in good physical condition and help them improve their football skills,” Cardinals Coach Mike Zoesch said.

The Cardinals were among about 100 teams that took part in the June 14-17 Bronco 7-on-7 tournament.

The 7-on-7 event is an all-passing, touch football tournament involving backs, receivers and linebackers and defensive backs. The 7-on-7 games provide coaches an opportunity to work on passing offense with quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and on defense with linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties.

There were teams from 1A through 5A schools entered in the tournament. All the 7-on-7 entries were divided into four-team pools for the round-robin play that took up the first three days of the competition. The 25 pool play winners then advanced to the June 17 single-elimination tournament held at the Denver Broncos training facility at Dove Valley to determine the tournament champion.

The Cardinals faced tough challenges in pool play and lost games to Moffat County, to eventual pool champion Legacy and to Monarch, so they didn't advance to the June 17 championship tournament

But Zoesch said the tournament was good for the Cardinal defenders because they got to see a lot of different formations and routes.

“Our focus in 7-on-7 competitions is defensive improvement because our offense doesn't throw the ball a lot,” he said.

The coach also took time to talk about the coming football season.

“We have quite a few seniors coming back on both sides of the ball and we have a strong junior class,” the coach said. “We just went to Gunnison for our full-contact camp. We had 45 kids in camp and it was a great time for conditioning and building team unity because our kids are together constantly for about four days.”

He said he has been at Elizabeth for 15 years and this is his third year as head football coach.

“There was a little dip in numbers and talent when I took over but we have bounced back,” Zoesch said. “But I see us coming back. The kids are more committed to the program and they are working harder. I think we have the talent to be even better than we were last year.”

A big plus for the team is play of junior quarterback Nick Ball.

“I got to start at quarterback the middle of my freshman year then played the position as a sophomore,” Ball said. “I know I am a much better quarterback now than I was at this time last year because I have worked hard to get better. While we run the ball most of the time, I have been working on being a better drop-back passer and passing when I roll out. ”

He said the 7-on-7 helps him as a passer.

“In 7-on-7 we see different teams and defensive coverages,” he said. “I focus on working to read the coverages and the defense so I can get the ball to my receivers.”

Ball said the Cardinal offense runs the ball a lot.

“I like to throw the ball but I also like to run it. Both are fun,” he said. “But passing or running the ball, the most fun is doing what I can to help our team get into the end zone.”


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