The Kansas City Blues are no strangers to 7s success. They’ve reached the National Championships multiple times and the final four twice. But, until qualifying as the West’s second seed Saturday, they hadn’t reached Nationals in over a decade.
“It’s been since 2000, since my old ass was (playing),” said Blues coach Scott Kramm.
“I’m not going to say it’s a long time coming, because it’s a young team that’s just starting up again, but they’ve brought the Blues’ legacy back to what it used to be. It’s going to mean a lot to our old boys.”
The Blues won their first qualifier in a long time earlier this month at their own tournament in Kansas City, but some were skeptical of the success. Was it a fluke or a sign of more to come?
It's now evident the latter was true, as the Blues were riding an 11-game win streak on the West circuit (not including a tournament championship in Tulsa between qualifiers) until falling to the Denver Barbarians in the final of Denver 7s Saturday inside the stadium at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
During that run, the Blues hit their stride by taking care of the ball, winning restarts and finishing opportunities created by adherence to a pattern. Drew Haig and Kenny Scott showcased the pace to finish possessions under the posts, Kevin Schwartze excelled in gathering restarts and Conner Smith and Tim Curtis managed numerous line breaks.
The Blues beat every core team in the West this summer, including West champ Denver, and did so with largely the same group of guys who’ve been in their club in recent seasons.
Credit’s due to Kramm, who’s in his third year coaching the Blues. And credit’s due to the Blues as a club, who have put faith in local coaches. Some teams see it necessary to import coaches, while the Blues, who had a great 15s season under Scott Adamson, are reaping the benefits of promoting from within.
“We’re growing as a team, and I’m doing it as a coach, too,” said Kramm. “It was a big learning process for myself, too, and along with our players, we’re not done, yet. We’ve got a lot of learning to do and a long ways to go, but it’s a good feeling.”
Though the Blues lack Nationals experience, they don’t lack confidence, as they expect to compete in San Francisco.
But wins won't come easy on Treasure Island, as the Blues draw defending champs Belmont Shore, the Midwest dominating Chicago Lions and Hawaii champs the Tama Laie Lions in their pool.
Asked whether he thought they could be competitive at Nationals, Kramm responded, "We better win some games."