The National Select 7-on-7 National Championships were held over the weekend in Hoover, AL for the 15th straight year.
11th-seeded Louisville Male (KY) became the lowest seeded team in the events history and the first team from Kentucky to win the event after defeating Hoover in the winner-take-all championship game 20-16.
Hoover needed to defeat Male twice in the championship finals to win and forced the winner-take-all game by defeating Male 27-24 in the first game on a late interception. It was the first 7-on-7 tournament win in Male’s history engineered by quarterback Hayden Shelton and receiver Zach “Z” Smith doing most of the damage via the long ball on multiple occasions.
As for the state of Georgia it was again another empty trip. 6A schools (highest classification in GA) Colquitt County, North Gwinnett, Grayson, Valdosta, Lassiter and Centennial represented Georgia. Georgia was the second-most represented state in the field behind Alabama’s nine schools.
Colquitt County won their pool and entered the double-elimination portion of the event as the fifth seed, the highest seed of all Georgia schools, advancing to the loser’s bracket finals after falling to Mallard Creek. In the loser’s finals the Packers lost in a beatdown to Hoover 42-2. Colquitt posted an overall record of 10-3.
Lassiter entered tournament play as the eighth-seeded team after posting a 5-2 pool play record. The Trojans won their first two tournament games over 25th-seeded Foley (AL) and 24-seed Mandeville (LA) before falling to the losers bracket after losing to top-seeded Hoover. Lassiter bowed out in their next game losing to 10th-seed Byrnes (SC), finishing with a 7-4 overall record.
13th-seeded Grayson bowed out quickly losing each of its first two games in tournament play to 20th-seeded DeSoto Central (MS) and 29th-seeded Centennial. Grayson finished with a 4-5 overall record. Centennial, the lowest seeded team from Georgia, were eliminated by 14th-seeded Clay-Chalkville (AL) in their next game. The Knights finished with an overall record of 2-8.
17th-seeded North Gwinnett won its tournament opener against 16th-seeded Wheaton North (IL) before falling to the loser’s bracket after losing to top-seeded Hoover. The Bulldogs were then eliminated by 31st-seeded Glendale (MO) in their next game and finished with an overall record of 4-6.
Valdosta played in arguably the toughest pool of the event with Mallard Creek, Hoover and Byrnes in the pool. The Cats started slow in pool play with an 0-3 record before rebounding to finish 3-4 and seeded 21st. Valdosta was bounced in their first two games by 12th-seeded Stanhope Elmore (AL) and 28th-seeded Carver-Montgomery (AL) posting an overall record of 3-6. Valdosta’s showing was a slight disappointment considering they had showed well in previous National Select Qualifier tournaments over the summer, including a runner-up finish in the South Carolina Qualifier in Spartanburg, SC in late June.
Georgia is too powerful of a high school football state to not have a school win the biggest 7-on-7 event in the nation since its inception in 2001. Lovejoy (GA) pulled out of the Georgia Qualifier due to qualifying for another event in its first year. Lovejoy finished as the runner-up in that event losing 16-5 to Ribault (FL) in the title game. Lovejoy is the only Georgia school to hold the top seed in the National Select 7-on-7 Championships, doing so in 2012, yet did not win the event.
Mallard Creek (NC), Spartanburg (SC), Byrnes (SC), Hillcrest (SC) represented the Carolinas in this years event. Spartanburg earned the two-seed in tournament play after posting an undefeated 7-0 record in pool play. The Vikings won their first two tournament games before losing 25-24 to seventh-seeded Oxford (MS), on an outstanding play by the Oxford receiver, in the winner’s bracket quarterfinals. In the loser’s bracket the Vikings eliminated 31st-seeded Glendale (MO) before bowing out to 19th-seeded Bergen Catholic (NJ) 31-20 in a game with multiple controversial calls. The Vikings finished 10-2 overall.
Mallard Creek posted a 6-1 record in pool play losing only Hoover. In tournament play the Mavericks advanced to the winners bracket finals, defeating Hoover along the way. Mallard Creek fell to the loser’s bracket after falling to 11th-seeded Male (KY). Mallard Creek would bow out of the tournament in their third game against Hoover (AL) in the loser’s bracket finals. The Buccaneers won 26-20 on one of the best plays of the entire weekend where a Buccaneers player caught a deflected pass in the back of the end zone with no time left for the game-winning touchdown, eliminating the Mavs. Mallard Creek finished with an overall record of 11-3; two losses to Hoover (AL).
Byrnes got off to a 3-0 start in pool play before finishing 4-3 to enter the tournament as the ten-seed. The Rebels defeated 23rd-seeded Spain Park (AL) before falling to the loser’s bracket after a loss to seventh-seeded Oxford (MS). The Rebels defeated 16th-seeded Wheaton North (IL) and eighth-seeded Lassiter (GA) before being eliminated by fifth-seeded Colquitt County (GA). The Rebels posted an overall record of 7-5.
Hillcrest (SC) entered the tournament as the 18-seed after going 3-4 in pool play. The Rams made a quick exit losing to 15-seed Naperville Central and 31-seed Glendale (MO) in tournament action.
Mallard Creek, Spartanburg and Byrnes all showed that Carolina high school football can hold its own. Mallard Creek will face Byrnes in regular season action on September 4th and Spartanburg and Byrnes will tangle during the regular season on October 2nd, making for an interesting run among the top teams in South and North Carolina.