Team Tampa, what does it mean? It’s more than just an All Star Team. More than a bunch of talented players or a group of kids assembled to represent the Bay Area.
Team Tampa has become a brotherhood of student athletes who have gravitated to each other like teammates from their individual school teams. The players who make up Team Tampa have been hand selected. They are regarded as some of the best at their respective positions. However, many of these players only read about and view highlights of each other before pledging their allegiance to a 7 on 7 All star team. I would go, as far to say, some of the players were not too fond of others before creating such an alliance. But, what is easy to observe in person, on Facebook or Twitter…Team Tampa is an elite group. Not just because of their ability, but because how strong the bond has become.
This weekend Team Tampa will compete in the National 7 on 7All Star team tournament held at IMG in Bradenton. Team Tampa lost to South Florida Express in the finals a few months ago in the qualifying tournament and members of Team Tampa expect a different result this time around.
Grip and Rip
No other position is more important in a 7 on 7 tournament than the QB. Pete Dinovo is the guy for Team Tampa. No matter the result, his performance will be praised or scrutinized. He will have to be money this time around. The 2013 East Lake prospect is the best QB in Tampa Bay. It won’t matter this weekend. He will have to be the best QB at IMG on Saturday and Sunday to give Team Tampa the best chance to win the whole tournament. Alex McGough, Gaither and Skyler Clarke, Armwood will also line up at QB for Team Tampa.
Air Traffic Control
I am not sure you are going to find a better group of ball players in the defensive secondary than those on roster for Team Tampa. The starters: Vernon Hargreaves, Wharton; Leon McQuay, Armwood; Kyle Gibson, Armwood and Nate Godwin, Freedom. Hargreaves eliminates action automatically. If opposing teams feel the urge to test Tampa Bay’s best CB, just get your defense ready…they will be on the field the next snap after the interception. At some point, opposing offenses will have to go deep. That would be mistake #2. Leon McQuay has such good up field speed, ball skills and any pass that the QB thinks he can throw to beat him, 8 of 10 times will result in a turnover. Godwin, The Griffins, Gibson and Campbell are all BCS talents and will have no problem competing with McQuay and Hargreaves for the most picks (interceptions) in the tournament.
The Big Bird and The Big Show, Zach Benjamin (Tampa Catholic, WR 6-5) and Travis Johnson (Jesuit WR 6-5) are as consistent as WRs come. No flash, no pop! Just Mr. First Down and Sir Touch Down. The two private school receivers are a problem for every defender or defense designed to stop them. Back off and play loose, they will catch the intermediate route in front of you. Press them or play them close, Benjamin and Johnson will go over top of defenders. Pick your poison.
JuJuan Pollock, Manatee 2013 RB/Slot is the quickest player on the field at all times. He is so difficult to cover because he can do so much. Great hands, swift feet and lightning speed makes him the biggest matchup problem each snap.
Alvin Bailey, Armwood and Richard Benjamin, TBT combine for a duo only seen on TV. Great open space players who will be depended on to make plays for Team Tampa. Benjamin was hampered last tourney due to a hamstring injury. Bailey missed the first day of the qualifying tournament. If both players are healthy and play both days, Dinovo and the QBs will have TD options with any pass. Don’t let Artavious Scott, East Lake 2014 WR out of your sight either.
If you have not seen George Campbell, East Lake 2015 S play in any environment, you are in for a treat. Get your popcorn ready! Maurice Hall, Gibbs 2014 ATH is healthy. Hall is a pure football player. Put him anywhere, any position at anytime and count on him to make something happen.
NEW NAMES, POSSIBLE HUGE IMPACT
Shug Oyegunle, Gaither 2013 Slot – The defense will key on the players they know (Bailey, Benjamin, Johnson and Scott) leaving plays to be made by a player just as talented.
Austin Gallon, Armwood 2014 WR – Tall, fast 9 route (Go Route) or deep 8 (Post Route) threat for Team Tampa.
Nigel Harris, Hillsborough 2013 – If there was a weakness on such a talented team, it would be Team Tampa LBs attempting to cover the smaller and faster running backs. Harris could be the solution to that problem. He is fast and changes direction well.