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NEW ENGLAND 7 v 7 FOOTBALL

Bishop Hendricken of Rhode Island tops best of MIAA to take 7-on-7 championship

Dennis-Yarmouth receiver Geoff Jamiel makes a reception past Newton North defenders. Jamiel helped Dennis-Yarmouth get to the final where his team fell short of the championship.
Dennis-Yarmouth receiver Geoff Jamiel makes a reception past Newton North defenders. Jamiel helped Dennis-Yarmouth get to the final where his team fell short of the championship. (GARY HIGGINS FOR THE GLOBE)

PEABODY — As the dog days of summer continue to roll on, conditioning workouts that mark the start of the high school football season are a little more than two weeks away. In the meantime, 10 regional football squads faced off against each other Thursday at Bishop Fenwick High School in the ninth annual New England 7-on-7 Championship.

Bishop Hendricken (R.I.) won the championship with a 20-14 win over Dennis-Yarmouth in the tournament final.

The single-day tournament featured seven MIAA schools — Andover, Billerica, Brockton, Dennis-Yarmouth, Hingham, Lynn English, and Newton North — as well as schools from the RIIL (Bishop Hendricken), the MPA (Bonny Eagle, Maine) and the ISL (Buckingham Browne & Nichols). Teams qualified by placing first or second in regional tournaments or securing wild-card bids.

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The 7-on-7, passing-only format gives teams the opportunity to work on offensive concepts without worrying about rushing plays or special teams.

“Football is really 365 now for kids who want to play it,” said tournament director and Milton High coach Steve Dembowski. “The first thing you find out is who’s in shape.”

The semifinal matchups saw Bishop Hendricken (4-0 in pool play) defeating BB&N (3-1), 20-12, and Dennis-Yarmouth (3-1) defeating Brockton (2-2), 26-21. Teams qualified for the semifinals by having one of the top two records in their pool.

Last year’s tournament winner Suffield (Conn.) Academy was not in this year’s tournament, leaving the door open for a new champion.

Newton North coach Mike Coppola instructs his team. The tournanment gives coaches a chance to judge their teams’ readiness for the upcoming high school football season.
Newton North coach Mike Coppola instructs his team. The tournanment gives coaches a chance to judge their teams’ readiness for the upcoming high school football season. (GARY HIGGINS FOR THE GLOBE)

In the title game, both teams scored on their first two drives making it a 14-14 game with a little less than seven minutes left. After scoring in less than two minutes on both of its previous drives, Bishop Hendricken began to pace itself and was able to cap a scoring drive on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds remaining. Because of the tournament rule of having a running clock, the Hawks then ran out the clock on their 2-point conversion attempt, closing the door on any possible comeback from Dennis-Yarmouth.

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“We were tied for most of the game. We had a couple big third down conversions (at the end) and it was a great team effort,” said rising Bishop Hendricken senior Tom Comella. “It was really great to work on the chemistry with the receivers.”

While one team came out on top, the overall theme for teams was to find out where they are as they try to improve heading into the fall.

“Even though the head coach doesn’t coach it and it’s not real football, enough of it transitions. Coaches get to watch and get to evaluate the growth in kids,” said Dembowski. “You find out things about the kids that don’t really matter whether you win or lose.”

Buckingham, Browne & Nichols’s Ronan Hanafin makes an interception over Hingham’s Grady Harrington.
Buckingham, Browne & Nichols’s Ronan Hanafin makes an interception over Hingham’s Grady Harrington. (GARY HIGGINS FOR THE GLOBE)
Dennis Yarmouth defender Evan Presswood makes an interception of a ball intended for Newton North’s Evan Thompson . . .
Dennis Yarmouth defender Evan Presswood makes an interception of a ball intended for Newton North’s Evan Thompson . . . (GARY HIGGINS FOR THE Globe)
But Thompson ultimately got the best of Dennis-Yarmouth’s defense in this game as he runs for a touchdown.
But Thompson ultimately got the best of Dennis-Yarmouth’s defense in this game as he runs for a touchdown.(GARY HIGGINS FOR THE GLOBE)

Trent Levakis can be reached at trent.levakis@globe.com.