By David Bannister of Hoover High School
Daphne goes 13-0, sweeps Prattville for National Select 7-on-7 championship title
Published: Saturday, July 23, 2011, 7:55 PM
HOOVER, Alabama — Prattville’s Jamey Dubose and Daphne’s Glenn Vickery felt the same way about their football teams on Saturday afternoon.
“I sort of feel like we left our best players back at home when we came up here for this 7-on-7 stuff,” Vickery said.
That’s what makes their teams’ showing at the National Select 7-on-7 Championships impressive this week at Hoover. Each team solidified itself as a Class 6A state title contender when the pads and the lines join the fun.
Daphne went a perfect 13-0 against all comers in the 31-team field in pool play and the tournament to leave as the victor. The fact those 31 teams from 15 states included five state champions and five state runners-up from last year made it all the more impressive.
The defending Class 6A champion beat Prattville 18-10 in the winner’s bracket final and repeated that with a 10-8 result in the championship game. Organizers believe Daphne’s 13-0 showing was the first time that the champion had gone unbeaten in the nine-year history of the event.
Rising junior quarterback T.J. Fleeton turned heads for the Trojans. He came in with scant experience, having started just one game for Daphne last season.
“He did great,” said Daphne receiver T.J. Yeldon. “Nobody expected much from him but we just kept him up. He didn’t throw many picks. He threw a lot of deep balls and he threw it well across the middle.”
Yeldon, an Auburn commitment, exhausted defenders all week with his crossing routes over the middle from the slot position.
The low-scoring in the two contests with Prattville were an example of the athleticism and talent of both teams.
“Both schools are known for defense,” Prattville’s Dubose said. “When you can match up in man coverage and legs are getting tired late in the day in this heat it gets tough.”
Dubose said the teams could switch jerseys and most would not be able to tell the difference. The teams mirrored each other in man coverage and were patient with their snaps to conserve energy.
Daphne played two safeties high and tried to take away the deep ball the Lions had used most of the day. Prattville was the only team this week to hold the Trojans under 23 points and the Lions did it in back-to-back games.
Hoover and Spain Park fell in the loser’s bracket. Hoover won its first game 23-22 against Dorman, S.C., and then beat Dorman 22-4. The Bucs fell behind 26-0 to Lassiter of Georgia and didn’t score until 6:45 remained. Lassiter held on for a 33-22 victory.
Hoover finished the week with a 10-2 mark after not losing in pool play.
“When we got rolling we played well,” Hoover junior safety Devon Earl said. “When we did not, it was easy to see what we have to work on.”
Spain Park’s highlight came in its first game against Indianapolis Warren Central. The Jaguars found themselves down 28-20 with 36 seconds to play. Junior quarterback Nick Mullens led the team to a quick score and got a two-point conversion. The big throws kept coming in an eventual 44-35 win in double overtime.
North Gwinnett, Ga., eliminated the Jags 22-19 in the next round. Spain Park finished 6-5 for the week.
Former Alabama standouts Marcell Dareus and Julio Jones spoke to the teams that reached the semifinals. Dareus and Jones made an appearance through their Under Armour endorsement relationship with National Select 7-on-7.
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