7-on-7 football tournament gives first-year coaches Rob Poole of Lafayette High, Cecilia’s Dennis Skains more time to get to know their teams _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Lafayette High quarterback Brennan Broussard gets ready to throw a pass against St. Thomas More's junior varsity team in a 7-on-7 matchup Wednesday at St. Thomas More.

LAFAYETTE — Just ask any coach, and they will all tell you the same thing. There is no such thing as too much practice. While that adage holds true for the 12 teams participating in the Airo 7 v 7 tournament at St. Thomas More, two coaches — Lafayette High’s Rob Poole and Cecilia’s Dennis Skains — have an extra sense of urgency.

Both men will be entering their first season as head coach and are using the tournament as an opportunity to get a better look at their teams. With just two weeks of spring drills under their belts, there remain plenty of unknowns.

The Lions will have a different look under Poole as the Mississippi native will move the Lions away from the veer offense and into a more open spread attack.

Poole and new offensive coordinator Brett Blakey will employ a one back and one tight end formation the majority of the time.

With such a big shift in philosophy, Poole said the added reps provided by the tournament will go a long way saying, “As much depth as we can create in (7-on-7) will help us down the road.”

An added boost to that depth could come in the form of junior varsity players getting to showcase their skills against a varsity opponent. Lafayette is one of several teams that has its junior varsity competing in the 7-on-7 tournament.

Live competition is the other reason coach Poole was excited to have his team participating in the two-day event.

“Anytime you can compete in something, I think it makes you a better football team” Poole said.

Just like Lafayette, Cecilia has a new head coach and new offensive coordinator. Cecilia fans can expect to see a lot of one-back, one tight end formations out of offensive coordinator Dane Charpentier’s offense.

“The kids show up ready to work every single day,” Charpentier said.

While the concepts of Charpentier’s offense may be simple, he said he feels it’s the tempo that will separate the offense from opposing defenses.

“I’m not a big fan of substituting if we can avoid it tempo-wise we’re going to pick up the speed a lot,” he said.

But before the Bulldogs can go fast, they will have to learn the system.

“Right now it’s a lot of install, it’s a lot of learning,” Skains said. “We’re in the infant stages.”

Skains said he hopes his team can use the 7-on-7 tournament to learn things and also to get as many mistakes out of the way.

“Make those mistakes (now), so you can learn and grow from them,” Skains said. “We’re trying to get better with each game we play and improve on certain little details.”

His team will have another chance Thursday to get better as they return to STM for the final day of the tournament.

Both the Lions and Bulldogs, along with the other 10 teams will each play a warm-up game between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Once those games are complete, the tournament will transform into a single elimination event. Thursday’s winner will advance to the state championship round Friday.