TURNER — With a two-week Maine Principals’ Association-mandated “hands-off” period and the dog days of August looming, the final night of Leavitt Area High School’s 7-on-7 tournament was Friday.

“I want to get right back into it. I don’t want to wait,” Cony senior quarterback Taylor Heath said.

Heath and his fellow Rams were waiting for the winner of a game between Morse and Mt. Blue to be decided, watching the game with more than just a passing interest because they are Pine Tree Conference rivals with Mt. Blue and have Morse scheduled for their first preseason game, which is Aug. 22.

Players on all three teams haven’t been beaten down because of the summer heat.

The 7-on-7 camp is a passing camp which unfolds in three nights spread out through July and gives the players but a taste of the season to come. There is no blocking or tackling. It’s a tag football league, which may add to the players’ eagerness to go full-tilt.

“I’m ready to put the pads on. This is all just passing,” Mt. Blue senior lineman Brandon Durrell said.

“I’m ready to get going, see what we’re made of,” Mt. Blue senior fullback Makao Thompson said.

Friday served as the camp’s playoffs, and Mt. Blue eventually emerged as Cony’s opponent for their league semifinals. The camp serves many purposes, but as the exclamation point to a long off-season that often begins in December in the weight room, it’s not hard to find kids champing at the bit for more football when it is over, according to Cony coach B.L. Lippert.

“There’s nothing really that replicates playing another team to get your competitive juices flowing,” Lippert said. “The tags are a little bit firmer. These are football kids, after all. Some of those linebacker-types, they’re eager to get hitting. They’ll have to wait a couple of more weeks.

“We’ll see how our kids compete tonight,” Lippert said before the game. “It’s not really about winning and losing. We’re just looking to see their competitive edge.”

The camp and summer team practices are meant to get the players primed for the season. It’s also the first of many lasts for the soon-to-be seniors, many of whom suddenly find themselves in leadership roles for the first time.

“The team’s really young this year, so it’s good experience,” Cony senior running back/wide receiver Chad Bickford said.

“It’s really helpful because a lot of the underclassmen don’t know the formations and stuff,” Durrell said. “It makes the transition easier for them.”

July also serves as an introduction to varsity football for many underclassmen. June graduations become a little less painful for football coaches who know the next generation for them to mold is right around the corner.

“You get some thoughts in your head as a coaching staff of what it might look like, but then you get chance to see it in reality,” Lippert said. “Most of the time you confirm your suspicions, but every once in a while you might see a kid might not be able to play there, he might be better suited here.”

Of course, it being a passing camp means the quarterbacks are the center of attention. Some teams use it to evaluate those competing for open jobs, while others who have a veteran QB returning under center — such as Cony — use it to the get the quarterback back in sync with familiar and not-so-familiar receivers.

“It helps me learn our timing with our new receivers,” said Heath, who has a mix of receivers he’s worked with in the past and has never thrown a pass to before this summer. “It’s definitely a good start for us.”

If Heath and the Rams offered to move up the preseason opener three weeks, the Shipbuilders would gladly accept the challenge. The QBs would just have to agree to step aside once in awhile.

“We’re ready for the first game,” Morse senior running back Raz Baltazar said. “Let’s run the ball.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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Twitter: @RAWmaterial33