Tag Archives: 7on7

Boiling Springs Wins 7-on-7 National Championship

Boiling Springs (8-3) became the lowest seeded team ever and first team from South Carolina to win the USA Football 7-on-7 National Championship in Hoover, AL over the weekend.

The Bulldogs rallied from a 1-3 start in pool play to finish 3-3 earning the 25th seed. In tournament play Boiling Springs picked up where it left off in pool by ripping off five consecutive wins to claim the championship to end the event on an overall seven game winning streak.

In the finals against host and third-seeded Hoover (9-1-1), the Bulldogs trailed 17-0 before rallying with 29 unanswered points to win 29-17. Boiling Springs took the lead for good 19-17 after the successful PAT on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Dawson Taylor to Najee Thompson.

Boilings Springs defense proved to be instrumental in the victory by recording two interceptions (3 points each) and a turnover on downs (2 points each). The offense did not waste any of those opportunities as they scored touchdowns off of each defensive set up.

The come-from-behind victory capped an impressive tournament run by the Bulldogs who defeated four single-digit seeded teams. Including the victory over Hoover, Boiling Springs defeated top-seeded Walton (GA) in the quarterfinals, defending tournament champion and fifth-seeded McGill-Toolen (AL) in the semifinals and eighth-seeded Spain Park (AL) in the first round. The Bulldogs defeated 24-seed Baldwin County (AL) in the second round after Baldwin County upset ninth-seeded Gadsden City (AL) in the first round.

Coming off of a state runner-up finish in class 5A in 2016 Boiling Springs will open the 2017 season August 25th at Ashley Ridge.

Notes:

Dutch Fork was the only other team in the event from South Carolina. The Silver Foxes went 6-0 in pool play and were the 2-seed entering the tournament. Dutch Fork finished with an overall record of 7-1 after being eliminated in the second round by 15-seed Har-Ber (AR).

Spartanburg Fends Off Valdosta For SC Qualifier Championship

The host Spartanburg Vikings won their second straight National Select 7-on-7 South Carolina qualifier in dramatic fashion Friday over Valdosta (GA). The Vikings entered the tournament portion of the event as the three-seed after posting a 5-1 record in pool play, their lone loss was a 26-13 setback to Valdosta.

Valdosta posted a 6-0 record in pool play and entered the tournament portion of the event as the top-seed after winning the tiebreaker with Union County (SC). Valdosta found itself in the loser’s bracket after falling  21-20 to fifth-seeded Hillcrest (SC) in the winner’s bracket semifinals. The Wildcats won the losers bracket by defeating Jefferson County (GA), Union County and Hillcrest to earn them a shot at Spartanburg in the finals where they would need to defeat Spartanburg twice to win the championship.

Spartanburg and Valdosta went back and forth the entire championship game as each made key plays in the waning moments of a highly competitive contest.

Tied at 23 with just under 3 minutes remaining Valdosta took its first lead of the game by forcing a turnover on down by Spartanburg. Spartanburg’s defense responded by forcing Valdosta to turn it over on downs tying the game at 25-all with just over 40 seconds remaining. Spartanburg was unable to cash it in as Valdosta intercepted the first pass of the drive to take a 28-27 lead. The Vikings defense held forcing Valdosta over on downs to pull within one, 28-27 with 18 seconds remaining.

Austin Scott was 144-229 42 TD 4 INT in SC Qualifier action
Austin Scott was 144-229 42 TD 4 INT in SC Qualifier action

This time the Vikings would cash in on the extra life as Austin Scott found Marsalis ‘Pops’ Wilson in the left corner for a touchdown with three seconds remaining for the 33-28 lead after the failed conversion. Valdosta would get one last shot but Seth Shuman’s desperation heave into the end zone fell incomplete and the Spartanburg bench erupted in celebration. Spartanburg finished 9-1 overall while Valdosta finished 11-2.

Spartanburg Vikings Win 2015 SC Qualifier
Spartanburg Vikings Win 2015 SC Qualifier

Spartanburg’s high octane offense has been well documented over the past calendar year and with much of the offense returning from last season state championship team, expectations are sky high around the program. Quarterback Austin Scott is the engineer of said offense and passed for 42 TD 4 INT while completing 63% of his passes during the two-day event.

5-star recruit and the No.1 All Purpose Back in the country according to 247Sports Tavien Feaster is the headliner for the Vikings. Feaster completed the tournament with 33 receptions and 11 TD. Tavaris “Pee” Scott led all Viking receivers with 46 receptions and 13 TD. Up and coming receiver Marsalis ‘Pops’ Wilson finished with 31 receptions and 6TD, Byrnes transfer Josh Johnson tallied 14 receptions and 3TD while Eric Rice finished with 12 receptions and 4 TD during the event. Rice, who was a reserve defensive back last season, moved back to offense during the spring and looks to be the back up running back for the Vikings this fall.

With the victory Spartanburg earned a berth in the National Select 7-on-7 National Championships in Hoover, AL July 16-18. It is the second consecutive summer the Vikings will play in the National Championships. Last season they bowed out in the loser’s bracket finals and played the entire event without receiver Tavaris Scott who was out with a hand injury.

Valdosta earns 3rd straight trip to Hoover
Valdosta earns 3rd straight trip to Hoover

Valdosta, with it’s runner-up finish,  received an invite to the event during the trophy presentation and they confirmed they would attend for the third consecutive summer.

Spartanburg will open their regular season Saturday August 29th on the road against Wakulla (FL). Valdosta will open their regular season Saturday August 22nd against Norcross in the Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome.

Colquitt County’s Wild 7-on-7 Stretch

The Colquitt County (GA) Packers have experienced a series of thrilling outcomes the last two weekends on the 7-on-7 passing league summer circuit.

Last Saturday the Packers fell 37-21 to North Marion (FL) in the semifinals of the University of Alabama 7-on-7 and finished 6-2 in the event.

Six days later the Packers made the familiar trip north to the Atlanta-area for the 2nd Annual Corky Kell 7-on-7. Colquitt used back-to-back thrilling late game heroics in the semifinals and finals to finish a perfect 8-0.

In the semifinals a touchdown pass from Chase Parrish to Ty Lee with no time remaining gave the Packers the 30-25 victory over Byrnes (SC).

In the finals it was the defense that stepped up. After surrendering a Peachtree Ridge touchdown in the waning seconds, the Packers knocked down the conversion attempt to preserve the 23-22 victory and championship.

Colquitt County (GA) Packers 2015 Corky Kell 7-on-7 Champions
Colquitt Co. Packers 2015 Corky Kell 7-on-7 Champions

The Packers boarded the bus and headed to Auburn University’s 7-on-7 event. Again the Packers found themselves in a championship game coming down to the wire, this time against Westside (SC). However this time it was Westside coming through with the late game heroics completing the game-winning touchdown pass on the games final play to earn the 27-21 victory. It was a sweet victory for Westside, who fell in the championship game of the event last summer.

Colquitt County will participate in other 7-on-7 events before competing in the National Select 7-on-7 National Championships in Hoover, AL July 16-18.

Spartanburg Wins South Carolina Qualifier

The Spartanburg Vikings won their second straight National Select 7-on-7 Regional qualifier, this time in their home state at their own school.

Wren defeated Spartanburg 26-24 in the winners bracket finals sending Spartanburg to the losers bracket finals. The Vikings defeated Boiling Springs before getting revenge against Wren when it mattered.

The Vikings won game one 25-15 giving Wren its first loss setting up the winner-take-all final game.

Austin Scott and Tavaris Scott set the tone on the first possession hooking up on a touchdown pass for 6-0 lead and the route was on. Wren pulled to within 16-6 on a Kelly Bryant to Bailey Rodgers 40-yard touchdown pass but would not score again until after Spartanburg had extended its lead to 32-6 before winning 39-18.

“I think were getting a little bit better. That’s what we try to do each and every week. We don’t want to just get good and then just stay there we want to try to peak in December, ” Vikings head coach Chris Miller responded when asked if he felt the team has improved since their last regional qualifier win in Georgia two weeks ago.

The Vikings again used an array of weapons led by running back Tavien Feaster (16 TD) to navigate the double-elimination tournament. Feaster and Tavaris Scott (15 TD) each finished with 46 receptions while Xavier Young and Terence Jeter combined for 64 receptions and 10 TD.

“I probably have the best receiving corp I’ve ever had before with ‘P’ (Tavaris Scott) and Tavien (Feaster), Xavier (Young) and (Terrence) Jeter making plays it makes my job a whole lot easier,” Viking quarterback Austin Scott said.

Scott finished 179-of-252 (71%) 46 TD 6 INT leading Spartanburg to 382 total points and a 10-2 overall record.

“I just take away the experiences to get better so we can have an offensive bond and grow together. Our plan is to get better each week,” Austin Scott said.

Cedarius Rookard, Mike Murphy, Ronnie Miller, Kiyounnie Jackson, and Hezekiah Byrd anchored a Viking defense that gave up 20 or more points only three times and yielded only 15.1 points against over 12 games.

Wren had a very solid showing behind quarterback Kelly Bryant and wide receiver Bailey Rodgers. After a 3-2 pool play record, the Hurricanes won their first five bracket games including a 20-18 win over top-seeded Woodruff to advance to the finals.

“All around I’m real pleased with the fact we got to play in the championship and I thought it was good experience for these guys,” Wren head coach Jeff Tate said. “We played three freshmen on defense and I thought with some of the inexperience we have in some areas I thought the guys grew up some today playing against the top competition that we saw,”

“Leading up to the championship game our defense gave us opportunities all day long. They made a bunch of big plays on the goal line and kept us in games, I was really pleased with them. I’m real pleased with Kelly (Bryant) and Bailey (Rogers) had a great day,” Tate added.

Spartanburg had already qualified for the National Select 7-on-7 National Championships prior to winning the South Carolina Regional. Head coach Chris Miller confirmed afterwards that they would be attending. The National Championships are July 17-19 in Hoover, AL.

Archer Wins Corky Kell 7-on-7

The Archer Tigers won the inaugural Corky Kell 7-on-7 in Roswell Friday. Archer defeated McEachern 28-25 in the finals. Archer entered the tournament portion of the event as the third-seed while McEachern was the 8-seed.

Archer jumped out early on McEachern and never trailed in the championship game to take the win. Gabe Tiller, Dylan Singleton and Sloan Huff stood out for the Tigers offense.

“It was a great day of competition for the kids. We got a lot kids that got a lot of reps and we had some kids that hadn’t played much for us in the past that really did some good things today,” Archer head coach Andy Dyer said. “If this doesn’t help you get in football shape then nothing else does. ”

Archer finished 7-1 on the day. Norcross was the only team to defeat them however Archer won the rematch in the semifinals.

“You come here to compete. If you get in the competition you wanna win it,” Dyer said.

Valdosta Going To Hoover

The Valdosta (GA) Wildcats will travel to play in the National Select 7-on-7 Championships in Hoover, AL. Valdosta won the Palmetto State Showdown (SC) 7-on-7 passing tournament in June qualifying them for the national event.

The Palmetto Showdown gained national attention in its early years for its level of competition. Byrnes (SC) host the event and have won multiple South Carolina State Championships. The Wildcats from south Georgia became the second team outside of South Carolina to win the tournament in its six years. Region 1-6A opponent Brunswick (GA) is the other. Byrnes (SC) won the rest. Brunswick (GA) did not make the playoffs last season in the region, those spots went to Camden Co., Lowndes, Valdosta and Colquitt Co.

Valdosta opens their regular season against GA Class 5A Thomas County Central on August 30th in Valdosta,GA.

Valdosta (GA) Wildcats Win 6th Annual Palmetto State 7-on-7, Qualify For Hoover

It may have been the summer but it wasn’t just two random schools playing for a 7-on-7 championship. It was Valdosta and Byrnes, two schools rich in high school football tradition and history. The competitive juices were flowing from both players and coaches as though it were the fall. Valdosta rose to the occasion making key plays to prevail as the second team from Georgia to win the Palmetto State Showdown in its six-year history, defeating host and No.1 seeded Byrnes in the championship game.

Byrnes scored on their opening possession when 2012 record-setting quarterback Shuler Bentley- passed for a South Carolina record 59 TDs in 2012, found Shaedon Meadors for a touchdown. Bentley hit Tavin Richardson for the extra point giving Byrnes a 7-0 lead. Valdosta was unable to score on their first possession giving Byrnes a 9-0 lead with 13:30 remaining.

Trailing 9-0 after the first four minutes of play, Valdosta would not fold. The Wildcats from ‘Titletown’ stopped Byrnes on their next possession to make it 9-2. Following the defensive stop, Byrnes committed pass interference and defensive holding penalties keeping the Valdosta possession alive. Valdosta cashed in on the extra downs as Cole Massengill hit Malcolm Joseph for a touchdown and Caleb Whitfield on the extra point to tie the game 9-9 with 7:20 remaining.

The potent offense of Byrnes was on the move again and were inside the fifteen yard-line with a fresh set of downs when Valdosta linebacker Anthony Smith intercepted a Shuler Bentley pass giving Valdosta a 12-9 advantage with 4:10 remaining. Valdosta was unable to add offensive points and Byrnes pulled to within one, 12-11, after the defensive stop. Byrnes was moving again but on third down and short Bentley’s pass fell incomplete giving Valdosta a 14-11 lead with 39 seconds left and the Wildcats ran the clock out on their final offensive possession for the win.

You can watch the Valdosta/Byrnes championship game beginning at the 8:48:00 mark here.

Valdosta Wildcats
2013 Palmetto State Showdown Champion Valdosta Wildcats

Valdosta fielded two teams in the tournament and the ‘A’ team won the title as a No.3 seed in the tournament after going 8-2 in pool play action and 12-2 overall. One of their two losses came to the Valdosta ‘B’ team. In the tournament Valdosta ‘A’ defeated No.19 seed Union County (SC), No.6 seed Daniel (SC), No.15 Erwin (NC) and No.1 seed Byrnes (SC). Valdosta’s ‘B’ team finished pool play 6-4 and were the No.7 seed in the tournament losing to No.10 seed Gainesville (GA) in the first round to finish 6-5 overall. Combined both teams were 18-7 overall with a championship game win and wide receiver Alex Cason was named Palmetto State Showdown MVP.

Valdosta earned a spot for the National Select 7-on-7 Championship in Hoover, AL July 24-26. Afterwards head coach Rance Gillespie was noncommittal on whether they would accept the invitation.

Other notes:

Byrnes ‘A’ was the only undefeated team after pool play with a 10-0 record and finished 13-1 overall for the event. The Rebels won the Auburn University 7-on-7 last week. Byrnes opens their 2013 regular season against Apopka (FL) in August. Apopka (FL) won Florida’s class 8A state championship in 2012 and have high-profile prospects returning. ESPN will televise the game.

North Gwinnett was 6-4 in pool play and finished 6-5 overall losing in the first round to eighth-seeded Byrnes ‘B’. North Gwinnett was the nine seed and had an 26-24 victory over Byrnes ‘B’ during pool play. After finishing as the North Gwinnett Qualifier runner-up to Olive Branch (MS) and winning the University of Georgia 7-on-7 tournament earlier in the week, Jefferson County (GA) posted a 4-5-1 pool play record and finished 6-6-1 losing in the quarterfinals to fifth-seeded Lakeside-Evans (GA). In National Select Qualifier events, Jefferson County is 12-12-1 and has an invite to Hoover if they elect to take it.

Lakeside-Evans (GA) was a 2012 class 5A playoff team in 2012 and went 7-3 in pool play and 9-4 overall, losing to Byrnes ‘A’ in the semifinals on the last possession as time expired 30-23.

Led by highly-touted quarterback and Clemson commit Deshaun Watson, Gainesville (GA) posted a 6-4 record in pool play and were 7-5 overall, losing in the second round to the tournament Cinderella Erwin (NC). Gainesville lost one of the vents more high-profile games to Byrnes ‘A’ 41-27 during pool play with many Clemson supporters in attendance. Erwin (NC) was the No.15 seed after going 3-7 in pool play. Erwin defeated No.18 Wren (SC) in the play-in first round, second-seeded Bergen Catholic (NJ) ‘B’ team, and Gainesville (GA) before falling to Valdosta in the semifinals finishing 6-8 overall.

Bergen Catholic (NJ) fielded an ‘A’ and ‘B’ team yet those teams were not split ‘varsity’ and ‘junior varsity’, they were split among starters and others on the depth chart, each being on both teams. Bergen Catholic has four quarterbacks vying for the starting job with two on each team rotating them by possession per team regardless of time and score. Bergen Catholic opens their 2013 regular season at 2012 “National Champion” John Curtis (LA) in August.

Southern Durham (NC) wide receiver Maurice Trowell was the main target for Southern Durham throughout much of the Showdown showing plenty of flashes of things to come. Southern Durham went 3-7 in pool play and lost to Byrnes ‘A’ in the second round to finishing 4-8 overall.

Jack Britt (NC), a class 4-2A state runner-up three of the past five seasons, was the only team that did not post a win finishing 0-11 overall. Jack Britt returns a pair of 1,000 yard rushers in 2013.

It’s the summer and you can’t but help to say to yourself, “what if the pads were on”. Still growth, reps and experience are important over the summer months. The high school football summer is underway and August practice and the start of the season is not to far away.

6th Annual Palmetto State Shootout Set To Fly

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.

2012 Champion Byrnes Rebels
2012 Champion Byrnes Rebels

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.

Bergen Catholic and Byrnes receive awards after 2012 championship game
Bergen Catholic and Byrnes receive awards after 2012 championship game

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.

Cedar Shoals Goes 6-6 At Auburn High School 7-on-7 Event; Byrnes Staying The Course

The Cedar Shoals Jaguars went 4-6 last season under first-year head coach Chris Davis. Coming up on his first full year of taking over the program, Davis is taking the Jaguars into new territory as they attended the Auburn University High School 7-on-7 event this past week. Cedar Shoals has taken part in FCA 7-on-7’s in the past yet this level of competition was different with the likes of Prattville (AL), Brynes (SC) and DeSoto Central (MS) among others.

Cedar Shoals Jaguars
Cedar Shoals Jaguars

“We had a terrible first day,” Cedar Shoals head coach Chris Davis said.

The Jaguars went 2-5 during pool play on the first day but rebounded on the second day defeating Prattville (AL), Jefferson Davis (AL), Callaway (Hogansville, GA) and DeSoto Central (MS) in the tournament portion of the event before losing to Callaway in the B Flight Finals. When it was all said and done Cedar Shoals finished 6-6 overall at the event.

Rising senior Quvntay Burdette and rising Breon Mitchell held their own at their receiver spots while rising freshman Ryan Huff- who led his 8th grade team in INTs last season and Trevor Burgess stood out with solid showings in the secondary. Cedar lineman Frank Wilson won the Most Improved Lineman Award at the event.

“Our receivers got better and our secondary improved for the most part,” Davis stated. “It was a great start to the summer. We need to get more consistent. The guys had fun and saw what it takes to be a big time program.”

Byrnes just keeps improving while continuing to win. After losing head coach Chris Miller to Spartanburg (SC), the Rebels promoted offensive coordinator and offensive guru Bobby Bentley to head coach to lead the program again. It is Bentley’s second stint as head coach of the Rebels. If that were not enough, the Rebels went into the state of Georgia and hired North Gwinnett’s defensive coordinator Mo Dixon to run their defense. During his time at North Gwinnett under head coach Bob Sphire, all Dixon did was garner rave reviews from Sphire while helping the Bulldogs to seven 10-plus winning seasons and three region crowns in the hotbed of high school football talent that is Gwinnett County (GA).

During pool play Cedar Shoals went up against nationally known and respected Byrnes out of nearby Duncan, SC. The Rebels got the best of the Jaguars enroute to winning two titles. Shuler Bentley (ODU) and Shaedon Meadors shined for the Byrnes “A” championship team while rising freshman Jake Bentley (verbal to Auburn) and Micah Young carried the “B” team.

Byrnes Rebels
Byrnes Rebels

“They have big time swagger,” Davis said of Byrnes. “This could be one of their best teams particularly depth wise, they are loaded and [Shuler] Bentley (Byrnes QB who has passed for 8,200+ yards and 106 TD the past two seasons) is the real deal,” Davis added.

Byrnes will host the South Carolina Qualifier, also known as the Palmetto State Showdown, of the National Select 7-on-7 Championship Series next weekend (July 14th and 15th) in Duncan, SC. The Rebels have won three of the previous five tournaments. Brunswick (GA) will be in the field and are the only team from outside of South Carolina to win the event doing so in 2011. Wren (SC), located in the Greenville, SC is the only other team from South Carolina to win the event in the previous five years.

Byrnes was not ranked in the early Max Preps Xcellent Top 25 as Northwestern (SC) was the lone South Carolina team to land in the Top 25 however odds are they will finish there with Shuler Bentley & Co. looking to win another state title while Gaffney (SC) led by Shaq Davidson and Hyleck Foster along with several others, will be hot on their tails.

Olive Branch Wins North Gwinnett National Select Qualifier

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.

Olive Branch Conquistadors
Olive Branch Conquistadors

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.

Jefferson County Warriors
Jefferson County Warriors

“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.