Sat. July 21, 2012 |
TAMPA – If you wonder whether teams take 7-on-7 football seriously, consider this series from Saturday's Sling-N-Shoot II tournament at USF.
East Lake quarterback Pete DiNovo was sacked when he couldn’t get rid of the ball midway through a game against Wharton. Officials thought that play ended the drive, but East Lake coaches yelled that it was third down.
The referees gave the Eagles another chance, and East Lake started the play with Wharton’s defense running back to the field. East Lake stopped to let the Wildcats recover, until Wharton coaches started yelling that the play should have counted and that they should take possession.
DiNovo eventually hit star junior Artavis Scott for the go-ahead touchdown.
East Lake earned a close victory, thanks to three touchdown passes by DiNovo, a UCF commit, against a defense led by Vernon Hargreaves III, one of the country’s top prospects.
“I definitely have to be on time with my throws,” DiNovo said against playing the five-star talent. “I can’t be late, because he’s the best in the country. He’s going to jump it. He’ll pick me off, and it’s game over.”
The tournament, which features 20 local teams and 28 others from Florida and the Southeast, continues today.
Woodruff starts at CDS: Carrollwood Day has typically fared well at this tournament, winning the small-school event a few years ago and starting 6-2 last year before being eliminated. The Patriots got off to a good start with a victory over a solid South Sumter squad thanks to key performances by Andy Embody, Robert Davis and Elias Earle.
“Our kids play hard,” coach Lane McLaughlin said. “The only problem is we don’t have a lot of them.”
The Patriots are having many of their players start on offense and defense, but they’ve also gained one this summer. Vidal Woodruff has inherited the quarterback job after transferring from Robinson and being cleared to play as a home-schooled student.
Woodruff’s presence Saturday moved last year’s starter, Dominiq Sicardo, to tight end. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior has drawn interest at that position from Missouri and others, and snagged a touchdown catch against Jesuit II.
“That’s a big difference for us,” McLaughlin said.
Bulls eke out win: The North Suncoast’s lone team, Wiregrass Ranch, held on against Sickles in one of Saturday’s best finishes.
Sophomore quarterback Shane Bucenell threw a deep ball to rising senior Ryan Shea in the closing minute. Shea ran the last 20 yards into the end zone to give the Bulls the lead.
Sickles bounced back and appeared to steal the victory on a late fade pass, but officials determined the Gryphons snapped the ball one second after the final whistle.
The win made a statement for the Bulls, who were thrown into a bracket with programs like Lakeland Kathleen and Palm Beach Dwyer while trying to rebound from a winless 2011 season.
"We’re playing great competition,” Wiregrass coach Jeremy Shobe said. “I told the kids, be glad to be get out here and get the reps. We’re getting ready to get back to real football here in a couple weeks.”
Perez learning, too: If 7-on-7 tournaments give young players a chance to learn on the job, it does the same for new coaches, like Steinbrenner’s Andres Perez.
The 30-year-old was the offensive coordinator on last year’s 7-3 team but was named the team’s head coach July 5. He said the Sling-N-Shoot provided a chance for him to mesh with the team and for the Warriors to learn that things haven’t changed too much.
“It’s big for me personally, just coming out here and seeing our kids starting to build as a team and seeing nothing has skipped a beat,” said Perez, who took over for Floyd Graham. “I think that was important for them.”
Steinbrenner showed few cracks Saturday by getting out to a 4-0 start and knocking off district foe Tampa Bay Tech. The Warriors knocked off Gibbs with a touchdown pass from junior Curtis Fitch to senior John Marc Carrier on the last play of the game. They finished the day 6-0.
“Our kids are learning how to win,” Perez said. “That’s kind of the next progression for us – learning how to win and learning how to compete. That’s what our kids are getting.”
Photo: Carrollwood Day's Andy Embody
Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.