TRUMBULL - St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia got to see his team compete against an opponent for the first time this fall when the Cadets played host to Trumbull on Friday in the first week of the FCIAC’s 7 on 7 Challenge.

“We didn’t keep score, we played like we do in our summer league,” Della Vecchia said of St. Joe’s first outing since it defeated Daniel Hand in the Class L title game to earn its 3rd consecutive state title last December.

“The pluses are that you are competing against someone other than yourself. It is good to see how kids react in a tougher situation than they would at practice so to speak,” he said.

“For the younger kids, they don’t have anyone pulling them aside after every play to correct them. The play is called, and they have to know the route and formations. Now the game is fast.”

Cadet captains are Brian Robertson, Justin Williams, Jack Wallace, Brady Hutchison, Owen DaSilva, and Kenny Martin.

“The team conditions hard over the summer and our captains brought them into camp ready,” Della Vecchia said.

The 7-on-7 game is designed as a passing game, with no interior linemen, no blocking and usually one-hand touch to put down the ball carrier. Strength challenges for lineman may include lifts and throws, a sled push and carrying sandbags.

Della Vecchia said: “We had 40 kids, split up into two. Our linemen played their own 7 on 7 game, they had fun with it because they don’t get to score many touchdowns. They had an absolute ball. Trumbull linemen ran a good controlled offense and our kids were just throwing haymakers the entire game.”

The game was 15-minute quarters on a 40-yard field with a quarterback, 4 receivers, a running back and a snapper facing a defensive shell of defenders.

Wallace and backup QB Matt Morrissey alternated quarters, while receivers rotated in and played 2 or 3 series a piece.

“The offense got the ball 1st and 20,” Della Vecchia said. “There are plays in 7 on 7 that can be impossible to defend and anyone can do that. We tried to keep it as close to what we would normally do anyway. When we play someone else, coverages are different than what our 7 on 7 defense faces in practice and knows the calls, so that is good.”

St. Joseph visits Warde Friday. Varsity is at 5 with freshmen and JV playing at 3:45.

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354