UndefeatedTeam 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.
Burning DesireNone 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 ProudPlayers 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.
Top TalentTeam 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 SpeedThe 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 FastIt 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.
Hot HandsVanderkup 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.
DefenseTeam 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 GeorgiaDionte 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.
BittersweetTeam 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.
DominationTeam 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.
GamerThe 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.
Class ActIt'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."
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