Canales: Sling & Shoot 'a mega-tournament'
Punta Gorda Charlotte High football coach Binky Waldrop has the only high school to compete in all 11 years of the Sling & Shoot summer football event at USF, and after finishing second out of a 62-team field this weekend, he remembered the event's humble beginning.
"We're the only originals -- the first year, there were nine teams," said Waldrop, whose team played 12 games in two days. "It's a great tournament."
The 7-on-7 tournament has exploded in size since assistant Mike Canales returned to USF for a second stint on Jim Leavitt's staff -- last year, it jumped up to 40 teams, then this year's 62-team field.
Leavitt posted a message on his Twitter.com page on Sunday night congratulating Hillsborough High for winning "the largest 7-on-7 tournament in America," but USF probably can't claim that honor just yet. A similar event at Texas A&M this weekend was expected to have a 96-team field from across Texas.
Nonetheless, the Sling & Shoot is big enough that games were played on 10 fields all over USF's athletic district. Canales said USF will have to cap the number of teams next summer, with the possibility of expanding the field to out-of-state teams as well. In the past two summers, the weekend has included a "Big Man Challenge" for linemen, which drew about 250 players in addition to the 7-on-7 squads.
"It's turned into a mega mega-tournament, a great event," he said. "It gets a lot of kids on our campus and gives them all a chance to play. We've really had a great turnout."
-- How many camps can boast two former NFL coaches in attendance? Former Bucs coaches Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy stopped by to see their kids -- Dungy's son Eric is a rising senior receiver at Plant, and Gruden's son Deuce, playing for Carrollwood Day, caught a two-point conversion for the winning margin in the championship game of the event's small-school division. "(Coach Gruden) said he was more nervous than he was in the Super Bowl, because then he had some control over what happened," Canales said.
-- Charlotte's quarterback, Kyle Midgett, is the younger brother of Justin Midgett, who signed with Florida in 2004 and later considered USF when he transferred out from the Gators program. Running back Mike Bellamy is a quick 2011 recruit, as is 6-foot-2 receiver Alex Mut -- half of Charlotte's 18 players this weekend will be underclassmen this fall.
Lots more notes to come today, so keep checking back ...