Day 1 from IMG 7v7: Plenty to go around

Mitchell Wilcox, Tarpon Spring

Clichés and sports seem to pair like peanut butter & jelly or a feel as comfortable as a perfectly fitted suit. It seems only fitting that a handful of clichés would accurately describe the first day of the NFA 7v7 National Championships hosted at the IMG Academy on Saturday such as: “to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best”, or “if you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen”. Six area teams participated in the group play portion against teams from all over North America in the relentless Bradenton heat; and while a few teams struggled slightly to keep their standards, the cream of the Bay Area’s crop showed their class.

The Polk County Dream Team finished 4-0 on the day with victories over the South Florida Express Elite, Treasure Coast Elite, BOOM Football out of the Chicagoland Area, and the Southern Express Elite out of Knoxville. It was QB Caleb Lewis from Victory Christian’s world and we were all just passing through it. Lewis linked up with Haines City’s Derwin James several times for points while Lewis’ teammate at Victory Christian Cecil Cherry and FS Marcus Walker from Lake Wales were neutralizing opposing WR’s. Linebacker Derrien Bomar was a handful until he landed awkwardly on his head and was forced to leave.

The defending national champions Team Tampa went 3-1 on the day with the usual suspects doing what they do best. Their first game was dropped versus their opponent from the Atlanta Area coached by Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, but they rebounded strong with a 44-0 mollywhopping of a team from Winnipeg, Manitoba. They finished up their day with victories in the afternoon session vs. teams from Louisiana and NJ/PA area near Philly with Brad Mayes leading the way at QB finding his top targets in George Campbell and Auden Tate all afternoon. Hillsborough’s Anthony King was a solid contributor for the defending champs as well.

Team Next Level Nighthawks went 3-1 on the day with some of the best play all around at times coming from Lakeland QB Holden Hotchkiss to Plant City’s TJ Chase along with King’s Demetrius Mann making literally an instant impact coming straight from USF’s camp in the morning to making 3 straight plays on defense. Durant FS Quentin Williams was present and accounted for when asked to contribute and was a playmaker on defense for them.

Alonso’s Chris Oladokun, TBT’s Deon Cain and Tampa Catholic’s Nate Craig were major factors for Team Unsigned Preps although they only managed to get 2-2 on the day versus stiff opposition from Mississippi, Michigan, Indiana and California’s Inland Empire and LA-Area. Sickles’ Ray Ray McCloud III was certainly making his presence felt versus the squad from Michigan getting past DB’s with relative ease during one of their victories.

All six teams will continue today when the double-elimination portion of the tournament begins and the local lads begin their quest for shirts and shorts summer supremacy at IMG starting at 8:00am.