TAMPA – The Clearwater Tornadoes kept the momentum going, albeit in a loss versus Hallandale in the finals of the USF Sling-N-Shoot this weekend. The Tornadoes advanced to the finals after defeating Spoto in OT in the sweet sixteen, then Tallahassee-Rickards in the quarterfinals and Lake Minneola in the semis to make it to the finals. Clearwater’s pool play on Saturday would have been the toughest schedule in America if they had played in pads, much less as one of the toughest pools in a 7-on-7 contest. The Tornadoes were joined by Hallandale, South Sumter, Plant, Manatee, Mainland, Armwood and Naples-Gulf Coast in their pool.
Clearwater QB Garrison Bryant showcased his skills with precision strikes to his favorite targets Jacquez Jones and Zach Lehman along combined with stingy defense once teams got close enough to strike. Bryant’s numbers in the semis and the finals were outstanding completing 2/3’s of his passes and combining for six touchdowns thrown versus Lake Minneola and Hallandale.
Clearwater wasn’t the only local team that advanced to the later stages of the tournament. Brandon and East Lake’s JV both advanced to the round of 16 with Brandon falling to Cape Coral, and East Lake eventually bowing out to the champions, Hallandale.
This summer, Clearwater has won BCP’s 9-Route Invitational, finished second at USF’s Sling-N-Shoot and also finished third at the state tournament presented by Adidas in Kissimmee. With the padded season on the doorstep, the Tornadoes are experiencing success they haven’t felt in a long time. Their skill guys like Adarius Lemons, Jacquez Jones and Zach Lehman all impressed, along with Cameron Ellis and the Byrd Twins on defense, but without the cannon attached to Bryant’s shoulder that delivers laser-guided precision passes to his teammates the Tornadoes would have faced a much tougher climb.
Bryant’s injury last season certainly hurt the steam he was generating to begin the season, but if you weren’t present for last season and saw him now, you’d have a hard time believing he was even hurt. Bryant’s accuracy and his arm strength are off-the-charts at this point and if the Tornadoes are going to become the juggernaut we feel they could become, then it’s going to start with the young man under center. See some of Bryant’s highlights from The Xecutives below —>