by Clellie Allen
WAKE FOREST — Basketball has reigned supreme in the state of North Carolina for as long as anyone can remember. But if a local football coach has his way, the game of hoops won’t keep its throne forever.
Bob Winstead, his good friend Guy Trawick and a host of fellow volunteers have a vision to build a football culture in the state, the like of which we’ve never seen.
Winstead, a former Division I linebacker and coach for 26 years, founded and has operated the Carolina Elite Football program for the last three years, focusing on using football to build leadership qualities in young men.
This summer, after studying football programs in other states, they are bringing a statewide 7-on-7 tournament to Wake Forest, July 20.
7-on-7 programs have grown in popularity in the last few years as they help with both skill and team development, according to Winstead. They also allow high school teams to have solid workouts without violating regulations on summer practices.
Play takes place on half the field, without any pads and a continuously running clock. There’s no tackling involved, so it’s a lot like backyard touch football.
The tournament, to be played July 20, will have nearly 50 teams from across the state. Heritage High, for whom Winstead is an assistant coach, is host, with Heritage Middle fields also being utilized.
In addition to a full slate of 7-on-7 games, there are other competitions that will take place.
A Lineman Challenge will test athletes in the bench press, a one-man sled pull, tractor tire flip, a 15-yard trap pull as well as the 40-yard dash and more. Events are for both teams and individuals.
Also taking place will be a long-snapping competition with participants judged on accuracy, speed, blocking and the ability to sprint 30 yards following the snap.
A kicking competition will test kickers on squib and onside kicks, extra points, kickoffs and placement on the field for field goals. Along with the kicking competition will be a contest for punting.
But the 7-on-7 tournament is not just for current high school players. Winstead has won a venue for the NFL’s Punt, Pass & Kick Competition. Boys and girls ages 6-15 can vie for the chance to qualify for state and then national competition.
The 7-on-7 Championship is a benefit to football teams, but also, says Winstead, in other states, it has become a staple for the local economy.
This is the first year of the tournament, but already Winstead expects that local businesses will feel a positive impact as fans from all over descend on the area.
For more information about the 7-on-7 Championship, see 7on7statechampionship.com.
What: 7 on 7 State Championship
When: Saturday, July 20, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
Where: Heritage High School, 1140 Forestville Road, Wake Forest
Cost: $25 for teams, $10 for fans
9 a.m., 7v7 seed rounds pool play
10 a.m. — Lineman Challenge
noon — NFL Punt, Pass & Kick
noon-1:30 — lunch
1:30 p.m. — Mitch Mason, speaker
2 pm. — single elimination bracket play
4 p.m. — Kicking Contest, Punting Contest
5 p.m. — Lineman Challenge, Punting Contest
7 p.m. — Kicking Championship
7:30 p.m. — 7-on-7 State Championship Game