Sun. Notebook: Badger Sport/New Level 7-on-7

Teddy Bridgewater

The Badger Sport/New Level Athletics National 7-on-7 championship tournament concluded Sunday at the University of Alabama. Teams competed in the single elimination tournament, and the final two teams who battled for the title came from the East Coast and West Coast.

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It was the match-up all were anxious to see during the event. The South Florida Express had a roster with players from the Dade County area vs. 1925 Elite from California with the roster of players from Los Angeles.

The game featured plenty of star power. South Florida Express included players like Teddy Bridgewater, Scout National 100 quarterback and a Miami commitment from Miami-Northwestern, Wayne Lyons, four-star safety from Fort Lauderdale-Dillard and Florida commitment Ryan Shazier, four-star outside linebacker from Plantation.

Greg Townsend
1925 Elite featured the best overall player in the tournament in USC commitment DeAnthony "The Black Mamba" Thomas, five-star cornerback from Los Angeles-Crenshaw. Also, USC commitment Victor Blackwell, National 100 wide receiver from Santa Ana-Mater Dei and Greg Townsend, four-star defensive end from Beverly Hills. The stage was set for the most anticipated match-up of the tournament.

Both teams were undefeated entering the championship game. The South Florida Express steamrolled their oppponents in Saturday's round robin play and earned the number one overall seed.

The 1925 Elite Team received the number three overall seed in the championship bracket and were forced to play a first round game with the toughest semi-final game. They scored in the final seconds against the Goon Squad to make it to the championship game.

The 1925 Elite team had plenty of stars talking, including offensive coordinator Keyshawn Johnson, but it was the South Florida Express who were the most rowdy and entertaining team of the tournament. They made it known to all in attendance they were representing Dade County. They also made sure to thow 'U' signs representing the University of Miami and 'Gator Chomp' for the University of Florida.

The game lived up to the expectations. The South Florida Express scored on the opening drive of the game, but 1925 Elite quickly tied the game. 1925 Elite would answer each time South Florida Express would score.

Avery Johnson
The turning point of the game came with less than three minutes remaining. The game was tied and momentum began to shift to 1925 Elite. Teddy Bridgewater threw a strike down the middle to 2012 elite receiver Avery Johnson from Pompano Beach-Blance Ely. Johnson caught the pass turned up field and turned on the jets. He raced 20 more yards untouched for the score.

The game did not end there.

During the first day of the tournament, Keyshawn Johnson said his team would walk back to California if they lost a single game during the event. His team drove down the field, but with time quickly winding down on a continuous clock DeAnthony Thomas made a couple big plays, and 2012 USC commitment Jordan Payton had some really nice catches on the drive. The 1925 Elite got within 10 yards of scoring with less than 30 seconds remaining. Victor Blackwell was out of the game with leg cramps which left 1925 Elite looking for a key go-to receiver.

The clock expired three incompletions later, and The South Florida Express won the first annual Badger Sport/New Level Athletics National 7-on-7 Championship.

Weapons Galore

The amount of talent on both sides of the ball was spectacular for both teams. Teddy Bridgewater had more weapons than any team in the tournament. Almost all of his receivers had several touchdowns throughout the weekend. South Florida Express had the small, electric-type playmakers, and 1925 Elite had bigger, stonger receivers.

Victor Blackwell
Players who were too quick and too fast for all the 1925 Elite defenders to cover included Miami commitment Eli Rogers, three-star from Miami-Northwestern, Jesse York, from Lauderdale Lakes-Boyd Anderson, Avery Johnson, and 2012 Brandon Snell from Miami-Norland.

Jerry Neuheisel, quarterback from Los Angeles-Loyola, had plenty of options to choose from as well. Neuheisel is also the son of UCLA head football coach Rick Neuheisel.

USC commitment Victor Blackwell was the best receiver of the tournament. He caught everything thrown his way and had a nose for the endzone. The 1925 Elite sorely missed him in the final drive of the championship, but other receivers stepped up their game.


DeAnthony Thomas spent most of the time on defense. He did line up at running back on occasion and could easily pick up 15 yards because of his speed and quickness.

USC commitment Jordan Payton had a monster game in the championship and was solid throughout the weekend. Devin Lucien, three-star from Encino-Crespi Carmelite, had several big plays especially on third downs. Michael Thomas, from Woodland Hills-Taft and ineligible during the 2009 season, had an outstanding weekend. Thomas is the nephew of Keyshawn Johnson.

The Black Mamba Earns Respect

DeAnthony Thomas
DeAnthony Thomas had all in Tuscaloosa wanting to catch a glimpse of his talent. No one left disappointed. Players continued to talk about his elite performance with all the hype well earned.

Thomas was a standout on the defensive side of the ball playing cornerback throughout the two days. He was aggressive and never got beat. He was always making the big plays and had a couple of picks Sunday in the championship bracket.

Offensive coordinator Keyshawn Johnson knew who to call on when a big play was needed. It didn't matter if Thomas took a pitch out or if he was running a route. He would gain at least 15 yards even when it seemed defenders were closing in to stop for short yardage. He was that quick, explosive and could turn up the field in a hurry. Overall the most impressive player at the tournament and his national ranking is well deserved.

Zeke Pike/Goose Cohorn Connection

The most talked about quarterback in Day One was Miami commitment Teddy Bridgewater. Day Two belonged to 2012 gunslinger Zeke Pike from Fort Mitchell-Dixie Heights, Ky. He played for the Goon Squad coached by New Level Athletics co-founder Baron Flenory.

Zeke Pike
Pike's father, Mike Pike, played for Georgia Tech and in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills. The son has excellent size (6-foot-5, 225) and showcased a monster arm Sunday morning. He throws a great spiral and has a quick release. Pike has the ability to see the field and does not focus on his primary receiver.

Pike reported double-digit scholarship offers, and expect the number to climb throughout the next several months. He will likely rank as one of the nation's top prospects.

Pike's favorite target throughout the tournament is also his teammate Goose Cohorn. Pike and Cohorn were always on the same page, and he scored double-digit touchdowns in the overall tournament. The 2012 prospect is only 5-foot-10, 195-pounds, but he will receive plenty of attention this season.

Andrew Bone's Day 2 Top Performers

1. Zeke Pike (Goon Squad)
2. Teddy Bridgewater (South Florida Express)
3. DeAnthony Thomas (1925 Elite)
4. Victor Blackwell (1925 Elite)
5. Danny Webster (B2G)
6. Brandon Snell (South Florida Express)
7. A.C. Leonard (Pro Impact 1)
8. Cortez Davis (Southeast Top Guns)
9. Jabriel Washington (Tennessee Elite)
10. Goose Cohorn (Goon Squad) Overall Tournament MVP

The award is given to Miami commitment Teddy Bridgewater. The quarterback earned the award after carrying his team to an undefeated record and winning the championship game against 1925 Elite.

Several players were deserving of the award including players like DeAnthony Thomas (1925 Elite), Zeke Pike (Goon Squad), Victor Blackwell (1925 Elite), and Jabriel Washington (Tennessee Elite).

Future Prospect to Watch

Brandon Simmons will enter his freshman season this fall, but he is one to keep a watchful eye. Simmons is the son of Kashaan Simmons, co-founder of New Level Athletics, and was given an opporunity to play for the Goon Squad.

Simmons worked at defensive back and had several good plays on Sunday especially against top competition. He broke up a key third down pass in the Goon Squad's final game against 1925 Elite. National 100 receiver Victor Blackwell was the target of Simmons' big play.

Simmons has recently moved Mansfield, Texas, but the family has not decided on where to settle for school.

Coach Quotes

South Florida Express head coach Brett Goetz said, "Overall it was a great weekend and great competition. New Level Athletics did a great job. Every team out here was good. We felt like we put the best 25 players in south Florida together, and it really showed today.

"The kids were great. We have been traveling together the last six days. We had a few practices, but they are all gamers. They show up to play every time. They are just a group of unbelievable kids."

Event Coordinators' Quotes

New Level Athletics Co-Founder Kashann Simmons on the first annual national championship tournament: "This was the first one, and we couldn't ask for a better event.

"You draw it up and envision how you want it to be, then you end up having California and Florida in the national championship game. They were two heavyweights. This is one of the best events I have seen in high school football.

"We are going to make it bigger every year. We will have this event every year, and the national championship back here at Alabama. We will have our annual All-American list, and hopefully we will have an All-American game and put the pads on.

"This is one of the most elite groups of talent we have seen. We do our regional tournaments, but I have never seen anything like this on one stage. I think it was a phenomenal event, and overall the most speed and talent we have seen."

New Level Athletics Co-Founder Baron Flenory: "I feel like it was an extreme success. We had the best teams from across the country. We have 14 teams battling it out. Everyone stayed healty and arguably the two best states in terms of talent made it to the finals. They got to duel it out, and it was great."

"My kids were phenomenal," Flenory said on coaching the Goon Squad. "We had a lot of underclassmen that did well. Brandon Simmons did well. He got an opportunity to knock down some balls going up against some of the nation's top players like DeAnthony Thomas and Victor Blackwell.

"Goose Cohorn is a beast. He is an upcoming junior, and nobody knows about him. He probably had over 10 touchdowns. In my opinion we had the best quarterback in the country in all classes in Zeke Pike. He has a laser. We had a lot of great guys. Zeke is already putting together the Goon Squad for next year."

Look for more this week on including interviews, recruiting notebook, photo galleries, All-Tournament Team, Badger Sport/New Level Athletics First Team All-American list and overall Top 10 performers of the tournament. Recommended Stories

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