The lines are painted, scoreboards are in place, Gatorade is on chill and the city of Duncan, South Carolina is set for another weekend of high-flying 7-on-7 passing tournament action. The annual Palmetto State Showdown hosted by Byrnes Rebels Football will commence this weekend for the sixth consecutive summer. No matter what day of the year you travel through downtown Duncan you’re bound to see a Byrnes Rebel flag flying on almost all streetlights. The city supports their Rebels as much as any elite high school football fan base and small town in America . In all respects the Rebels are Duncan, where eleven South Carolina state football championship trophies are displayed in the trophy case. It’s the summer now and it’s the time of year Duncan shows its true colors. They open the city to all comers, so long as your game for some competitive passing tournament football.
“Oh yes Rebels football is serious around here even in the summer. They have the tournament and everybody talks about it at work and around town because you know there are some good teams in it. They do a good job with it,” one resident responded while leaving a local store.
Seventeen high school football teams from four states will be vying for a spot in the National Select 7-on-7 Championships presented by Under Armour in Hoover, AL July 24-26. The winner and runner-up earn spots to the National Tournament if they elect to take it. Sixteen of the seventeen teams made the playoffs in their respective classes in their respective states in 2012. Byrnes (SC), Bergen Catholic (NJ) and Valdosta (GA) will each field an “A” and “B” team in the event for twenty teams total.
Gainesville (GA), winners of Georgia’s Class 5A, is the lone state champion in the field and are led by highly touted quarterback and Clemson commit Deshaun Watson. Bergen Catholic (NJ), Jack Britt (NC) and Union County (SC) were state runner-ups in their respective classes in their state.
Joining Watson will be other key prospects including Watson’s future teammate at Clemson ATH Jae’lon Oglesby of DW Daniel (SC). Oglesby has rushed for over 4,000 yards in his career. Byrnes (SC) will feature a pair of players in quarterback an Old Dominion commit Shuler Bentley (106 TD passes the last two seasons) along with teammate wideout Sheadon Meadors. Bergen Catholic has a pair in tight end Garrett Dickerson and linebacker Cameron Querio (Northwestern). Other prospects include Southern Durham (NC) wide receiver Maurice Trowell, Wren (SC) quarterback Jacob Clary, North Gwinnett (GA) wideout Nate Brown and running back CJ Leggett, Louisville commit JT Foster of Union County (SC) and a pair of 1,000-plus yard rushers from Jack Britt (NC), Eric Carter and Marquis Foshee, will be among scheduled to join their teams.
Bergen Catholic out of Oradell, NJ will have the longest trek to Duncan. The Crusaders will be making their third consecutive appearance and in past years fly in for the showdown. The Crusaders were the runner-up last season posting a 13-1 record losing only to Byrnes in the title game. Byrnes went 13-1 also losing to Bergen Catholic in pool play on a Hail Mary pass on the last play of the game. Safe to say the Rebels got their revenge winning on their last offensive possession of the title game on a Shuler Bentley touchdown pass in the back of the endzone.
“We’re excited about this year. This event keeps growing, we have great people working with us and we have a tough competitive field again this year. We plan on continuing to grow it,” tournament director Tony McAbee said.
7-on-7 passing tournaments are becoming more and more popular from coast to coast. The Palmetto State Showdown receives national recognition yearly because of the teams and prospects that participate. This will be the second consecutive year the showdown has been apart of the National Select 7-on-7 Championships, which has crowned a champion every year since 2001.
In the previous five years, Brunswick (GA) is the only team from outside of the state of South Carolina to win the showdown, winning in 2011. Host Byrnes (SC) kept the title at home winning in 2008, 2009 and 2012 while Wren (SC) won in 2010.
The complete field by state is listed below.
South Carolina: Byrnes (2 teams), Berkeley, DW Daniel, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Union County and Wren
Georgia: Brunswick, Gainesville, Jefferson County, Lakeside (Evans), North Gwinnett and Valdosta (2 teams)
North Carolina: Erwin, Southern Durham and Jack Britt
New Jersey: Bergen Catholic (2 teams)
Pool play games will begin Friday morning at 8:30am EST and continue into Saturday morning before the single-elimination tournament begins Saturday afternoon. Follow the action on Twitter by following @Byrnes7on7 and @select7on7.