— Shaw Media file photo

If you've been itching for football for much of the offseason, a 7-on-7 event can scratch that itch for you.

Although it is missing some of the components of the regular game, and there's sometimes very little you can really tell about the fortunes of the upcoming season without some semblance of factoring in a team's offensive and defensive line play.

But putting that aside, the value is immeasurable to a team that relies heavily on the aerial game to move the football. With constant personnel change in the high school game 7-on-7s provide an extremely valuable forum for quarterbacks that are being asked to step into the role of last year's graduated starter.

Or a returning quarterback can use the opportunity to develop a rapport with a new set of wide receivers or figure out whether or not certain routes might be better options than they were a year ago.

One might argue that 7-on-7s aren't exceptionally valuable to run-dominant teams, and while maybe the offensive attack isn't exactly running a bunch of plays that they will lean on in the regular season, the experience is one that can pay big dividends for defenses that now seem to face five-wide attacks that you see on almost every play in the 7-on-7 format.

Here's a few dates to circle on the calendar if you want to get a sneak peak at some of the teams hoping to shine in the fall.

• Universities host a pair of notable events on June 15 as both the University of Illinois and Northwestern University will have sanctioned events that will feature a number of teams in both locations.

• On June 22, a pair of noteworthy events will be conducted. At Oak Lawn Richards, the Bulldogs will invite a healthy contingent of teams into the fray. Also, Maine South will host an event that is a little out of the ordinary as full 11-man team event will be held in a effort co-sponsored by the Chicago Bears.

• The following Friday (June 28) an event that has evolved into one of the marquee summer events, the Red Grange Invitational, is hosted by Wheaton Warrenville South. The field of 24 teams features 17 teams that earned playoff berths, five that reached the state semifinals in their respective classes and two that played in title games (Montini and St. Charles North).

• Two conferences with a substantial pedigree will lock horns as the Central Suburban Conference and Mid-Suburban Conferences will battle one another in an event on July 19. 13 of the 24 schools in those two conferences were playoff qualifiers a year ago.

• Another elite conference, the West Suburban, will challenge one another with an event on July 11.

• West Aurora will hold two distinctively different events. On July 12, the Blackhawks will play host to nine other squads (eight from Illinois and one from Michigan) in a traditional 7-on-7 event. On July 18, things change dramatically when West Aurora will host the 20th annual "Battle of the Big Butts" Lineman competition that features events such as the medicine ball throw, tractor tire relay race and something only identified as a watermelon eating race.

• St. Charles North will host the Fox Valley 7 on 7 on July 18, which will certainly be a hot bed for teams looking to make a step up this season.

Teams will wind down their 7 on 7 calendars at the end of July as the first full week in August (August 3-10) is the state mandated no-contact week prior to the beginning of practices on August 12.