Candidly, the closest anyone from the St. Louis Rams organization got to an NFL championship in Indianapolis last season was the contingent of team personnel who visited Indiana for the Super Bowl.
Now, an all-star cast of high school standouts from to Francis Howell hopes to do more than represent the city of St. Louis and the Rams organization in the NFL's High School Player Development program's 7-on-7 national tournament, when play begins Friday at the Indianapolis Colts' practice facility.
"It's game week!" Kyle Eversgerd, the Rams' Fan Development Coordinator, and a co-Head Coach for the squad crowed to his new pupils prior to a workout at Continuity X Training Center in Earth City.
For the uninitiated, 7-on-7 is a chance for skill-position players, i.e. Quarterbacks, Running Backs and Receivers, a chance to shine. "It's pretty simple," Eversgerd reminded his team, "Throw it. Catch it. Defend it."
For the first time, all 32 NFL teams will be represented at the tournament, which has been around for a little more than a decade. Eversgerd said the Rams' approach has been different than the other franchises in that the team has been more involved. Former players helped coach at three area camps earlier this summer.
Unlike other programs, the Rams' 7-on-7 squad has also had the benefit of practicing at an NFL facility leading up to the tournament, and also got a pep talk from the Rams new head coach Jeff Fisher last week.
A Rams game week tradition, known as "Bagels N' Banter", where employees from across the organization come together for an informal breakfast, will be back in business before the 7-on-7 delegation leaves for Indianapolis Thursday morning.
Also new this year is a program tailored for lineman. senior Donnie White, Jr. and sophomore Jonathan Bonner were among those selected to participate. White said he's looking forward to building his leadership abilities up so that he can come back and put them to work with his Spartans in the fall.
The team will have every need catered to on their trip, with meals and most of the clothing and gear they'll wear paid for and provided by the NFL. Eversgerd sounded confident that the NFL exposure the young men have already received locally will insulate them from being star-struck come tournament time. It's a sentiment MICDS sophomore Cole Sigmund seems to have taken to heart.
"I’m looking forward to the experience," he said. "Getting all the free stuff , that’s all fun and games, but when it comes down to it, I’m here to get better and I’m here to come back to my team with the new knowledge of the game and improve on our season."
And count CBC's Bert Birdsall as one who doesn't mind crossing enemy high school lines to join forces. Even if it means working with the likes of White, who will be doing his best to stop Birdsall's Cadets this fall.
"On the field, we’re enemies but off the field, in events like this, we’re the best of friends, we all like eachother we all know eachother outside of school and outside of football, so its fine. We don’t really let the CBC-De Smet rivalry get to us."
Meet The Rams:
- Devin Alexander (Ritenour)
- Bert Birdsall (CBC)
- Keith Brent (Hazelwood Central)
- Tyler Brewer (Fox)
- Greg Gibson (O’Fallon)
- Brendan Moore (Mehlville)
- Darius Mosely (O’Fallon)
- Zach Muniz (CBC)
- Aarion Penton (CBC)
- Devin Roberts (Warrenton)
- Brett Siebenshuh (Francis Howell)
- Cole Sigmund (MICDS)
The following players were selected for the NFL Lineman Leadership Program
- Brandon Barton (Festus)
- Jonathan Bonner (Parkway Central)
- Chris Simmons (Mehlville)
- Chris Watkins (Wesclin)
- Cody Watz (Fox)
- Donnie White (De Smet)