The Badger Sport/New Level Athletics 7-on-7 Regional Tournament was scheduled for Tuscaloosa, Ala. this past weekend. The tornado which went ripped through the city forced the move of the event to Samford University. A team, who has yet to lose in two regionals, captured the championship. They dedicated their victory to the state of Alabama to those who have lost so much in the recent disaster.
Team Fire, based out of Miami, Fla., captured the championship after not losing a game during the two-day event. The players who make up the team won the regional in Tampa last month, and didn't lose a game that weekend as well. Team Fire are players
who mostly come from the Miami-Dade area, and all tried out for the South Florida Express 7-on-7 team.
None of the players from Team Fire made the South Florida Express team, but coaches and supporters from around the area put together a group of players to compete in these tournaments. Thirty-eight players make up Team Fire and Team Ice from the Miami-Dade area.
Loud and Proud
Players from the Miami area are known for trash talking. The players were loud, and they let their opponents know who was the best on the field. There were other teams who had more talent, but Team Fire got in the heads of their opponents early, and no one could match their desire to win or competitiveness.
Team Fire defeated Team West Tennessee to reach the finals. The West Tennessee team was led by the state's top players which included Brian Kimbrow, Jovon Robinson, Nate Cole and Will Gross. The Tennessee team lost the first game
Saturday, but they looked almost unbeatable heading into the semi-finals.
Swagger and Speed
The championship game featured Team Fire vs. Team Georgia. The players from the Peach State had an impressive roster which featured
Alabama commitment Kenyan Drake, Georgia commitment C.J. Curry, Jason Croom and Eddie Printz, a 2013 quarterback. Printz had been carving up defenses throughout the
tournament, but the swagger and speed of the defense of Team Fire was too much to overcome.
Fire Strikes Fast
It took Team Fire only two plays to score on the opening drive of the game. Quarterback Gheirry Vanderkup, from Hialeah, Fla., found teammate Hansely Fleurejus on a quick seam strike down the middle of the field and again on an out route in the endzone.
Team Georgia went three-and-out on their first possession.
Vanderkup connected with Fleurejus on the second play of their next drive for a 35-yard touchdown. Andy Garcia, lineback from Hialeah, Fla., made a strong
case for the MVP of the entire tournament with his performance both days. He intercepted Printz on the next possession.
Team Fire finally went three-and-out after a couple of long passes by Vanderkup fell incomplete. Team Georgia turned the ball over on downs once again. Vanderkup
hit Robert Moore in the endzone for another touchdown. Dion Witty, cornerback from Coral Springs, Fla., put the nail in the coffin on the next possession
when he intercepted Printz.
Life in Georgia
Dionte Taylor, a 2013 wide receiver from Stranahan, Fla., displayed his speed on the next possession with a 40-yard touchdown reception from Vanderkup. Team Georgia
finally moved the ball down the field for the first time. Printz threw a touchdown pass to athlete Jordan Marshall, from Powder Springs-Hillgrove, Ga. Printz found receiver Jason Croom in the back of the endzone for the two point conversion.
Team Fire had the championship won, but Vanderkup decided to split out at receiver for a few plays. He attempted to dive for a pass in the endzone and hit the ground
with force. Many believed he had the wind knocked out of him, but Vanderkup suffered an ankle injury. The severity of the injury hasn't been determined. He is expected to have
an X-Ray on Monday and hopeful for only a sprain. It was a tough way to end the tournament for a player who was the MVP of his team throughout the event.
Team Fire defeated Team Georgia 35-6 in the most lopsided score in the Badger Sport/New Level Athletics 7-on-7 games. Team Fire had too much Florida speed on offense. Their defense was just as impressive. The secondary completely locked down receivers throughout the weekend led by Larry Hope, Adrian Burton, Deshawn Lindsey, Chris Bivens, Dion Witty and Joshua Wright.
The hardest working player on the defensive side of the ball was Andy Garcia. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound prospect manned the middle of the field and did a terrific job is pass coverage. He had three interceptions and several pass break-ups.
It's widely known of the devastation that happened in the state of Alabama last week especially in places like Tuscaloosa, Pleasant Grove, Hackleburg and Pratt City.
Hialeah Offensive Coordinator Dennis Marroquin, who is the head coach for Team Fire, dedicated the championship win.
"We have been on a roll," said Marroquin. "We played with a lot of intensity, speed and class. We dedicated the championship to all the people of Alabama. I am real proud of our kids and coaches.
"Defense wins championships. I felt like the defense did a great job. We preached turnovers, and we had a lot of them. The defense was lockdown. You heard them screaming lockdown.
We had a lot of speed on offense as well. The players believed in my playcalling, and that's what matters. I am real proud of them."
South Showcase Combine this weekend in Thomasville, Ala. with registration fee to help Disaster Relief. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
ASAP for details.