Without flash, expectations, vertical passes or lockdown defenders, the Kenton Wildcats cruised to the National Select 7-on-7 Championship on Friday in a rout over Byrnes (S.C.), a team that had plenty of each of the aforementioned qualities about it.
And the Wildcats beat the Rebels twice in a row to earn the crown.
The championship game was hardly a contest, as Kenton controlled the clock with its unique 7-on-7 style of short passes and safe throws. It held Byrnes, an offensive Juggernaut, to just four possessions in the 22-4 win.
"We practice it everyday and we throw every night, individually with quarterbacks and wide receivers, so we have a lot of practice," said Grant Sherman, the side-armed quarterback who was named tournament MVP. "We like to compete with the best teams, and this was some of the 32 best in the country.
"It was a big day for us."
Sherman engineered efficient and safe drives with the lead, distributing the ball mostly underneath to wideout tandem Kollin Stollar and Justin Sawmiller. The slow pace often frustrated opponents, and Byrnes was no different.
Kenton, whose defense kept everything in front of it en route to two big interceptions against the Rebels, also got great plays from Michigan linebacker commitment Noah Furbush in the middle of the unit. On either side of the ball, the Wildcat system and the communication within it made Ohio's lone representative against dozens ofsSouthern teams a virtually unbeatable one.
Coach Mike Mauk, whose team finished as the National Select runner-up in 2010, finally knocked off a string of Southern champions in the event. 2012 winner Hoover (Ala.) failed to win a game on Friday while Kenton entered the day as the No. 4 seed in the entire field.
With the largest crowd of support just about from wire-to-wire, the seniors on the Wildcat roster were nearly driven to tears when the championship trophy was being presented. However, Mauk's group is attempting to use it as a springboard into the fall of 2013.
Said Sherman, "After each game, our coach asks us what our record is and we always say, "zero and zero," so we're just getting ready for August 31 against Coldwater (Ohio)."