The Olive Branch Conquistadors went 11-2 during the 2012 season while earning their ninth consecutive state playoff appearance in the state of Mississippi, losing in the quarterfinals to Madison Central (MS). They started a summer season filled with 7-on-7 passing tournaments across the southeast this week with a perfect showing at the opening event of the National Select 7-on-7 Championships Series. Olive Branch finished 11-0 overall at the North Gwinnett Regional Qualifier earning them a spot at the National Select 7-on-7 National Championships in Hoover, AL July 24-26 if they elect to take it.
Olive Branch completed pool play on Thursday with a 6-0 record earning them the No.2 seed after losing seeding tie-breakers to No.1 seed Alpharetta-who also finished 6-0 in pool play, for the double-elimination tournament on Friday. The Conquistadors would roll through the winners bracket of the tournament 5-0 defeating Cherokee, Central Gwinnett, Centennial and completing their perfect showing with two consecutive wins over 12th-seeded Jefferson County (GA). Their first win over Jefferson County came in overtime 26-25 to advance to the championship game and the second was for the championship winning 20-12.
Conquistadors wide receiver Warren Dewalt was named the tournament’s top performer. DB Alfred Dickens, DB Devonta Davis, S Clay Casey, QB Ross Trail and DL Chris Matthews are players to watch for Olive Branch as the summer continues and the fall approaches. Despite being dressed out, Matthews did not play yet was very vocal and supportive of his teammates throughout the final games of the tournament, evening giving words of advice to several Jefferson County players when they approached him afterwards.
“I almost blew a fuse on some of the calls but we won,” Olive Branch head coach Scott Samsel said. “We travel a lot during the summer, were going to Springdale, AR (National Select Qualifier Event) and West Monroe, LA and it was good to get this one.”
Olive Branch averaged 24.3ppg during the qualifier and were one of two teams outside of the state of Georgia to compete in the event. The Spartanburg (SC) Vikings under the direction of first-year and former Byrnes (SC) head coach Chris Miller finished 5-3 in the event overall was the other. Byrnes (SC) was the defending champion yet did not compete in this year’s North Gwinnett Qualifier.
After a 2-4 pool play record, Jefferson County made a solid run during the tournament defeating No.5 Jonesboro, No.4 Archer (Lawrenceville, GA) and No.8 Grayson (2012 Runner-Up) before losing to Olive Branch (MS) twice in the end. The Warriors would defeat the losers’ bracket winner No.3 Centennial to earn their second shot at Olive Branch in the championship game.
“We played good today, better than yesterday,” Warriors head coach JB Arnold said. “We’ll take this and get ready for next week and go up there (South Carolina Regional Qualifier at Byrnes in Duncan, SC) and see what we can do.”
Jefferson County finished 6-6 overall in the North Gwinnett Qualifier getting solid play from QB Will Jordan, WR J.D. Roberts, RB Coby Jackson, DB Randall Williams and DB Dustin Smith among others.