Winning championships is what the Byrnes Rebels do no matter if it is the fall or the summer. The reigning South Carolina Class 4A Division I State Champions added more hardware to their extensive collection winning the North Gwinnett National Select Qualifier 7 on 7 championship assuring them a spot in the National Tournament July 26-28 in Hoover, Alabama.
The Rebels fielded two teams in the tournament and it was the Byrnes “A” team that technically won the championship with a 35-27 win over the Grayson Rams “A” team. Junior quarterback Shuler Bentley threw 4 TD passes and 2 INT in the championship game for the Rebels and was named the tournament MVP.
Defensive Back KeKe Ashmore lead the Rebels “A” team defense all tournament long, leading the team in interceptions (which are worth 3 points in 7 on 7 action) and earned the Top Defender of the tournament award.
“KeKe works hard and is a super kid, a ‘yes sir no sir’ guy. He’s continuing to develop into a leader and you saw that this week, he had what 9 or 10 interceptions in this tournament”. Miller said about Ashmore.
“It was a great weekend. When you’re in these type of events it’s a marathon and our guys wanted to win and did,” said Byrnes Head Coach Chris Miller. “7 on 7 is great for our football program and were able to practice game situations whether they are good or bad and we try to learn from them and get ready to go win another state championship,” Miller added.
Byrnes “A” Team finished the tournament undefeated at 12-0 while their “B” team finished 9-2 with losses coming to the Byrnes “A” team and Grayson’s “A” team. The Byrnes “B”, led by Senior quarterback Bryan Bailey, was 2-1 against the Grayson “A” team in the tournament overall.
“Bryan is a super kid and is handling the position he is sitting in very well. He has a younger player playing in front of him and he continues to push hard and is a team player, he doesn’t let his personal position affect his approach to the team”, said Miller.
Combined Byrnes was a stellar 21-2 in this weeks tournament.
Byrnes got “revenge” after a regular season loss to Gaffney and defeated Gaffney in the state championship game last season to win their fourth state championship in the last five seasons.
The Grayson Rams also qualified to make the trip to Hoover. The Rams are the reigning Georgia Class 5A State Champions and are ranked as high as No.2 in some early national preseason polls were impressive all tournament long in getting to the championship game. Known mainly for their stout defense behind the nation’s top recruit Robert Nkemdiche, will be replacing last season’s starting quarterback Nick Schuessler and leading receiver Callen Hightower. The Rams are seeking to improve their passing game after having a run heavy offense the past few seasons.
Nkemdiche participated in the tournament as a running back and receiver making several catches, scoring touchdowns and showing his all around athletic abilities putting on quite the showcase.
Jack Banda, a recent commit to Arizona, also participated for the Rams and played the slot and tight end positions and showed his athletic abilities as well. Banda’s listed position is tight end however he also played on the defensive line last season in spots. Come the fall Grayson could be very versatile on offensive with many of its defensive players such as Nkemdiche and Banda making plays on the offensive side of the football.
Tyler Knight and David McTier rotated possessions in the championship game as they did most of the tournament for the Rams “A” team. McKnight tossed 2TD passes and McTier tossed a TD in the championship game. Receiver Korey Schaeffer showed signs of being the player to step in and fill Hightower’s shoes as he was named the tournaments Top Wide Receiver.
Byrnes and Grayson have national marquee games on their 2012 schedule. Highlighting the Rebels schedule will be a trip to Chesapeake, VA to face Oscar Smith as well as in-state battles with respected programs Gaffney, Northwestern, Dorman and an improving Spartanburg. Spartanburg participated in this weeks North Gwinnett National Select 7 on 7 tournament. Oscar Smith (VA) has been on the national scene the past few seasons and are defending Virginia State Champions. Grayson will host nationally respect Miami Central (FL) a week after opening their season in the Corky Kell Classic in the Georgia Dome against McEachern and close the season with Brookwood who won the Georgia state title in 2010.
Byrnes will host next weeks Palmetto State 7 on 7 Passing Tournament in Duncan, SC with teams from South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey and North Carolina participating. North Gwinnett hosted this weeks tournament and will make the trip to Duncan next weekend. Byrnes, Grayson and North Gwinnett were the only teams in this weeks National Select tournament to field both an “A” and “B”team.
Byrnes: Bentley (19) to Suddeth (10) (PAT good) Byrnes 7-0
Grayson: Knight to Banda (82) (PAT no good) Byrnes 7-6
Grayson: Ryan Carter (23) Interception Grayson 9-7
Byrnes: Defensive Stop Tied 9-9
Grayson: Christian Smith (15) Interception Grayson 12-9
Byrnes: A.James (21) Interception Tied 12-12
Grayson: Defensive Stop Grayson 14-12
Byrnes: Defensive Stop Tied 14-14
Byrnes: Bentley (19) to Suddeth (10)(PAT no good) Byrnes 20-14
Byrnes: Defensive Stop Byrnes 22-14
Byrnes: Bentley (19) to Meadors (1) (PAT good) Byrnes 29-14
Grayson: McTier (14) to Anderson (11) (PAT good) Byrnes 29-21
Byrnes: Bentley (19) to Barron (15) (PAT no good) Byrnes 35-21
Grayson: Knight TD pass (PAT no good) Byrnes 35-27
Byrnes wins 35-27
Video coverage of this championship game can be seen here.