FCIAC approves Ridgefield plan for 7-on-7 games, strength challenges

Justin Keller throws a pass during a Ridgefield football practice this week.

Justin Keller throws a pass during a Ridgefield football practice this week.

Gretchen McMahon / Hearst Connecticut Media

A proposal for 7-on-7 football in the FCIAC has been approved by the conference’s athletic directors, FCIAC commissioner Dave Schulz confirmed Wednesday.

The idea was presented by Ridgefield Athletic Director Dane Street and discussed during a virtual meeting of the conference’s athletic directors Wednesday morning.

The plan, which Street reviewed during a Ridgefield Board of Education meeting Monday night, is for a weekly combination of 7-on-7, non-contact games and strength challenges between two schools.

“We saw a rough framework of something similar proposed by the ECC (Eastern Connecticut Conference) and then met with our [football coaching] staff to put together what we felt best met the needs of our kids,” Street said.

“The CIAC has sent it out to all ADs (athletic directors) as an example of the type of alternative football activities that they would recommend for the fall,” Smith added. “[The] FCIAC (Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference) is in favor but official sanctioning will depend on [the] number of schools that opt in.”

Street said that FCIAC superintendents were asked to respond to conference commissioner Dave Schulz by Tuesday night.

According to an FCIAC document about 7 v. 7, all conference teams but Bridgeport Central have indicated they will participate. Fairfield Prep, Bassick, Harding and Wright Tech will also have the option to participate, following the pod format set up for scheduling this season.

Teams compete in five strength challenges, totaling 25 points. The score then carries over to the 7-on-7 game, which is played on a regulation-size field with four 15-minute quarters (running clock). The team with the most total points at the end of the 7-on-7 game is the winner.

Each team can designate 25 players for the strength challenge and the 7-on-7 games. Players can not take part in both events.

The five strength challenges are chosen by the home team from a list that includes bench presses, deadlifts, squats, carries, truck and sled pulls and pushes, throws, and cleans. All 25 players on each team compete in all five events, which are contested on different rotation spots on the field and overseen by coaches from both schools.

In the 7-on-7 games, the offense includes a center, quarterback and five eligible receivers. The defense can decide where to use its seven players. Running plays are not allowed, and the quarterback has four seconds to throw the ball. An official keeps track of time.

There is no tackling: Receivers are ruled down by one- or two-hand touches from a defensive player.

The design that Street discussed Monday night was for varsity strength challenges and 7-on-7 games to be held on Friday nights, and for sub-varsity (freshman and JV) strength challenges and 7-on-7 games to take place either Thursday or Saturday.