High School: 7-on-7

7-on-7 draws NCAA recruiting scrutiny

August, 5, 2011
7-on-7 has become the equivalent of AAU basketball or club soccer during the summer in Texas and around the country, which has drawn some concern from the NCAA.

ESPN's Joe Schad created a piece that ran today on Outside the Lines on how 7-on-7 had developed around the country and the issues the NCAA has with how it affects the recruting process.

In the video piece that ran, Schad cited the recruitment of former Dallas Skyline LB Anthony Wallace to Oregon through the exposure he received during 7-on-7 tournaments.

Here is an excerpt from the written piece on the OTL page at ESPN.com:
While college coaches don't attend the tournaments, over the past year a slew of NCAA investigators have. For years, the NCAA has struggled to keep up with the recruiting and amateurism violations found in AAU basketball. In an attempt to manage the 7-on-7 scene, the NCAA has assigned seven employees to explore its underpinnings. The concern is an influx of third parties -- such as the numerous coaches on Bush's South Florida Express -- could cause players to lose college eligibility if the players receive preferential treatment or extra benefits from them.

Because of that, many high school football coaches are also concerned about just who their players are playing for. The worries also include out-of-state travel with people whose backgrounds may be largely unknown, concerns about athletes being pulled out of class, and anxiety about a lack of knowledge among 7-on-7 coaches about how the players are performing in school.

Arl. Martin wins Red Bull 7-on-7 national title

July, 16, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas -- Brodie Lambert tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Kyle Hicks, leading Arlington Martin to a 27-4 victory over Clairton (Pa.) in the championship game of the Red Bull 7-on-7 Game Breakers National Finals on Saturday night at SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

“The weird thing is Martin really isn’t known for 7-on-7,’’ said Lambert, named the MVP. “Our team was down several times, but these guys never quit.’’

The title-game victory completed a 3-0 night and a 7-0 record in the two-day, 20-team National Finals. Combined with Martin’s 5-0 performance in the Fort Worth qualifier, the Warriors were a perfect 12-0 in Red Bull games this summer.

“We never wanted it to come to a double-elimination game,’’ said Hicks, who was also utilized as a pass rusher in addition to receiving duties.

Hicks, responding to the question of what the Red Bull title means: “This put our school on the map.’’

Martin’s most critical moment came in its first game of the evening when it trailed Houston Westside at halftime, 12-3. The Warriors rallied to win 23-12 with Lambert hardly missing a pass in the second half.

“We knew we had come this far and we didn’t want to see it end,’’ said Lambert, who is finally getting his chance after an injury-plagued couple of seasons at Martin.

Martin then handed Clairton its first loss of the double-elimination semifinals, 24-12.

Clairton, a Pittsburgh-area school with an enrollment shrunk by the closing of nearby steel mills, earned its way in the finals by defeating third-place Westside, 26-14. Clairton would have had to beat Martin twice in the finals to win the title.

Evangel Christian of Shreveport, La., lost both of its games Saturday and finished fourth.

DeSoto wins Texas state 7-on-7 championship

July, 16, 2011
DeSoto defeated Houston Lamar, 34-25, in the final of the 7-on-7 state championship tournament at College Station on Saturday.

DeSoto swept through five games Saturday to win the title, including a 39-26 win over South Dallas County rival Duncanville in the semifinals.

The Eagles' closest call came in the second round, when they edged San Antonio Johnson, 26-24.

Arlington Bowie won its first two games to reach the quarterfinals, where the Volunteers lost to eventual champion Houston Lamar, 27-21.

Mesquite and Hebron each one its first game before being eliminated in the second round.

Keller Central, Plano, North Crowley, Lake Dallas and Arlington were all one and done Saturday.

Arl. Martin heads to semis in Red Bull Nationals

July, 15, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas -- Arlington Martin is the lone Dallas/Fort Worth Final Four survivor in the Red Bull 7-on-7 Game Breakers National Finals following Day 1 play Friday at SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

Martin (4-0) defeated San Antonio Warren, 30-16, to reach Saturday’s semifinal.

The Warriors will face the only other remaining Texas team, Houston Westside, in the second semifinal at 7:55 p.m.

The first semifinal at 7:30 p.m. matches tiny Pennsylvania powerhouse Clariton against Evangel Christian of Shreveport, La., at 7:30 p.m.

All four semifinalists navigated five-team double-elimination brackets without a defeat.

Martin began play in 104 degree heat Friday afternoon in a field of 20 teams, seven of those from the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

No play illustrated Martin’s resolve more than a determined pass rush by TCU commit Devonte Fields in a 14-12 first-round win over Metro Christian of Tulsa, Okla. Fields continued to pursue scrambling Metro quarterback Andrew Hearon until making the sack that clinched victory.

“I was not going to give up,’’ Fields said. “I don’t know how long I chased him, but I know it was too long.’’

Dallas Red Bull Qualifier champion Highland Park along with Aledo and North Richland Hills Richland were eliminated one victory short of the quarterfinals.

San Antonio Warren dealt Highland Park (2-2) both of its defeats, 22-20 in the first round and 25-16 in an elimination game.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted,’’ said Scots quarterback Brady Burgin, “but we bounced back after losing our first game and made a lot of plays that will help going into the fall.’’

Aledo (1-2), a two-time Class 4A Division II state champion, was ousted by Pearland Dawson.

“We played against some good, quick defenses,‘’ said Aledo quarterback Matthew Bishop. “Any time we pick up the football, we want to win. I hate losing.’’

Richland (1-2) was eliminated by Florida representative Miami Columbus, 23-12.

Cedar Hill, West Mesquite and Arlington Sequin each had a close call, but failed to get a win.

Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware and New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush addressed the players during a break at the midpoint of Friday's action.

"I just told the guys they have the opportunity of a lifetime to go against the best of the best,'' Ware said. "I would have loved a tournament like this when I was in high school.''

Six area teams vie for Red Bull 7-on-7 title

July, 14, 2011
DALLAS -- In the 14 years since 7-on-7 football was approved for Texas public schools, popularity has grown dramatically. Even schools that don’t throw much during the fall find a way to succeed in the all-pass summer game.

An example is Arlington Martin, one of six area schools competing in the Red Bull Game Breakers National Finals on Friday and Saturday at SMU.

“The great thing about 7-on-7, yes, kids can improve individually,’’ said Martin coach Bob Wager, “but they also work together as a team, building a bond.’’

Martin, the winner of the Fort Worth qualifying tournament, will be joined in the 23-team field by Dallas qualifier champion Highland Park along with Aledo, North Richland Hills Richland, West Mesquite and Arlington Seguin.

Double-elimination play begins at 3 p.m. Friday at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Play resumes at 7 p.m. Saturday, culminating in the crowning of a champion.

In addition to the contingent from Dallas-Fort Worth, seven more Texas teams representing the areas of Houston, Austin and San Antonio will be joined by other qualifiers from Oklahoma, Colorado, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Florida.

The popularity of 7-on-7 football has given rise to more events. At the same time the Red Bull Game Breakers Finals will be contested, a Texas state tournament will be going on 185 miles to the south in College Station.

Martin qualified for both and had its pick.

“Both tournaments are great and it’s good that teams have an option,’’ Wager said. “We left it up
to our kids. It was a pretty one-sided vote. For us, Dallas is close. Our kids can sleep in their own beds. They like playing close to home. And there’s no charge to play.

“One of the things we enjoy in the Red Bull competition is the rule changes. Being able to rush the quarterback on third down, that allows us to get one more player involved. That’s always a good thing.’’

Rockwall advances to 7-on-7 state tourney

June, 20, 2011
Rockwall advanced to the finals of the Tyler State Qualifying 7-on-7 Tournament, clinching a berth into the 2011 State 7-on-7 Tournament from July 15-16 at College Station.

With the top two teams receiving automatic bids to the state tournament, Rockwall and Tyler Lee elected not to play the final.

For Tyler Lee, it is the 12th consecutive year the Rebels have earned a spot in the state tournament.

"We may be the longest streak going," said Tyler Lee coach Randy Huffstickler, who was named interim head coach on Monday. "Our guys take pride in that tradition and it needs to carry over, it needs to mean something."

It will be Rockwall's fifth trip to the state tournament.

For more on the Tyler qualifier, click here.

W. Mesquite's Virgil makes impression at 7-on-7

June, 18, 2011
CEDAR HILL, Texas -- Chason Virgil made a convincing case for West Mesquite’s starting quarterback job in the Red Bull 7-on-7 Game Breakers Dallas Qualifier on Friday at Longhorn Stadium.

It's rare to find an incoming ninth grader that can contribute to a proven program, especially at quarterback.

Virgil starred without the benefit of spring training (Texas rules prohibit an eighth grader from participation).

It is evident Virgil is making up for lost time. Displaying poise beyond his years, the 6-foot, 170-pounder led West Mesquite to a fourth-place finish in the 15-team tournament with a 4-2 record. Along the way, the Wranglers knocked out Mesquite Poteet, Hebron and Mesquite Horn.

“Our plan was to alternate quarterbacks each game, but after he won his two games and we lost the other, I wanted to see what he could do,’’ West Mesquite coach Mike Overton said.

Virgil credited teammates for settling his nerves.

He pointed to four months of training under former Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray for helping him take the big step.

“Footwork is something Kevin stresses,’’ Virgil said. “He preaches having confidence in your feet. I know I have the other tools.’’

Plano East QB tending to business

Long before he became the Plano East starting quarterback, Corey Wesley had already established himself as a successful entrepreneur.

As a ninth grader, Wesley was in the market for a hair-care product and wondered to himself, why not try to make his own?

That was the beginning of Corey’s Do-Dab, a business that sells shampoo, conditioner, wave pomade and locking wax. He is joined in the business by an older brother.

He credits his mother, a hair stylist with her own line of hair products, for inspiration.

“It is successful,’’ Wesley said during a break between games Friday. “We sell to beauty salons in Dallas and Plano. We have a website (coreysdodab.com) and I filmed a commercial not too long ago.’’

Wesley and the Panthers won their opener over Madison on Friday but followed that victory with losses to Mesquite Horn and Dallas Roosevelt.

Mesquite Horn DB grows into role of big-time recruit

Oklahoma pledge DeVante Harris keeps a picture at home to prove that as a freshman at Mesquite Horn, he really was 5-foot-2 and 90 pounds.

“People see that picture and ask if it really is me,’’ said Harris, who has grown to 5-11 and 160 pounds going into his senior year as a cornerback.

Growth for Harris came in his first two years of high school. As a sophomore, Harris added four inches and 30 pounds. He reached his current size a year ago and interprets knee soreness as a sign that his growth spurt is not yet over.

“My mamma was always feeding me,’’ Harris said. “She was concerned about me playing football when I was a 90-pound freshman. I grew late, just like my dad.’’

His dad is Rod Harris, a former wide receiver and return man at Texas A&M and later in the NFL with New Orleans, Dallas and Philadelphia.

Darren Lewis, his uncle, played at running back A&M and later with the Chicago Bears.

Class 3A Roosevelt finds success

Class 3A Dallas Roosevelt recovered from an opening-round loss to eventual champion Highland Park to finish 2-2, defeating Dallas Kimball and Plano East along the way.

Roosevelt’s enrollment of less than 800 students is dwarfed by Plano East’s 6,000.

Host Cedar Hill eliminated Roosevelt, 27-15, in a third-round consolation contest.

“Some teams look at a 3A school like us and count us out before we even start,’’ said Roosevelt senior defensive back/wide receiver Patrick Levels.

“This was a positive for us. We played against some good teams and I think we surprised ourselves. In the games we lost, it wasn’t what the other team did to us, it was our mental mistakes that hurt us.’’

Plano receiver ready to contribute

The junior season for Plano’s L.J. Ausama was pretty much a bust because of a shoulder injury.

The 5-foot-7, 170-pounder is healthy now and judging by Friday’s performance, appears to be a big part of the Wildcats’ offense.

Think Wes Welker.

“I’ve patterned myself after receivers like Welker,’’ Ausama said. “I try to find a hole. When you’re low to the ground, that can be an advantage. The defensive backs don’t always get a hand on me. You have to use what you’ve got.’’

Cedar Hill dealt Plano (1-2) an overtime exit after the Wildcats split their first two games, losing to West Mesquite and defeating Lancaster.

Receiver excites new Lancaster coaching staff

Dominique Martin created a buzz among the new coaching staff at Lancaster.

Martin saw little playing time last season.

“I decided to work really hard with my goal to get on the field this fall,’’ said the 5-foot-11, 164-pound senior.

His speed (40 yards in 4.5 seconds) combined with a more wide-open offense under coach Chris Gilbert should give Martin an opportunity to make his mark.

Highland Park takes Red Bull Dallas Qualifier

June, 18, 2011
CEDAR HILL, Texas -- Brady Burgin spread touchdown passes to three different receivers, sending Highland Park to a 27-22 title-game victory over DeSoto in the Red Bull 7-on-7 Game Breakers Dallas Qualifier on Friday night at Longhorn Stadium.

"This gives us a confidence boost," said the 6-2, 200-pound senior quarterback. "It proves, at times at least, we can compete with some of the area's best 5A and 4A teams."

Burgin's touchdown throws in the finals were gathered in by Charles Hubbard, Dalton Stogner and William Morris.

Morris' catch with four minutes remaining staked the Scots to a 25-14 advantage.

DeSoto scored on what turned out to be its final possession to close to 25-22, but Burgin and company secured a couple of first downs to run out the clock and complete a perfect 5-0 run through the 15-team bracket.

Highland Park, DeSoto and surprise third-place finisher Arlington Seguin earned berths to the Red Bull National Finals, to be held July 15-16 at SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

"Right in our backyard," Burgin said.

Highland Park was responsible for both of the tournament defeats for DeSoto (5-2).

In the third round, the Scots sent DeSoto to the consolation bracket, 21-15.

"They're fundamental," DeSoto receiver Brandon McDowell said of the Scots. "They don't get frustrated when things go wrong. Their receivers are hard to guard and on defense, they're tough."

McDowell had a touchdown catch in the championship game and was a solid contributor for the Eagles throughout the day.

Satisfaction for DeSoto came with its 36-18 triumph over rival and tournament host Cedar Hill in an elimination game.

"We'll be talking about that one for awhile," McDowell said.

Seguin (3-2) opened with wins over Mesquite Poteet, Cedar Hill and Mesquite Horn.

"Some teams probably looked at last year's 5-5 record and took us lightly," Seguin free safety Steven Aikens said.

Defending champion West Mesquite (4-2) lost twice to DeSoto and finished fourth.

7-on-7 notebook: Arl. Martin's rah-rah grandma

June, 15, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Even in afternoon temperatures approaching triple digits, Karen Fallman wasn’t about to miss a play involving her grandson, Arlington Martin quarterback Brodie Lambert.

The 73-year-old Arlington resident spent over six hours at the Red Bull 7-on-7 Game Breakers Fort Worth Qualifier on Tuesday night at O.D. Wyatt High School.

She was still going strong when Martin defeated Aledo, 20-11, under the lights for the title.

“I had a great time, particularly since we won,’’ she said. “I have eight grandchildren and they’ve all been good athletes. I never miss any of them playing. Brodie is the last one.’’

Friends say Karen doesn’t hesitate to let a referee know when she believes a mistake has been made.

“When its blatant right in front of them and they don’t call it, I don’t understand that,’’ she said.

Guyer receiver grades out well

Connor Crane ranks No. 1 academically in a 2012 graduating class of over 500 at Denton Guyer.

The 6-4, 190-pound outside receiver said his mom, a chemical engineer, insists on studies before sports.

Crane, a returning starter from last year’s Class 4A Division I state finalist team, is considering a career in the medical field. Football, however, plays a role in his college choice.

He’s made unofficial visits to Northwestern, Kansas and Colorado and will take a first-hand look at the Tennessee Volunteers on Friday, California Bears on Sunday and Stanford on Monday. He hopes to commit this summer.

“I’m looking for a good academic school, but I want to see how the coaches are and how quickly I can get into the lineup,’’ Crane said.

Crane caught a touchdown pass on the final play to beat Arlington, 26-24, in a third-round game Tuesday.

“People might overlook us this season because of the players that graduated, but I think we can make another run,’’ Crane said. “We have some guys that are really talented. It might take a couple of games because we will be young, but we’ll surprise some teams.’’

Sanger QB: Bigger schools don’t always have best players

Dane Evans, quarterback of Class 3A Sanger, dismisses the notion that players from smaller schools are inferior to those from larger Class 4A and 5A schools.

“All it means is those schools have more guys in the program, not better players,’’ said the 6-2, 190-pounder, who threw for over 3,400 yards and 37 touchdowns in 11 games as a junior.

Evans has busied himself by taking part in a number of skills camps on college campuses and he’s gotten a first-hand look at some of the top-rated prospects.

Sanger went 0-2 on Tuesday’s qualifier, but was competitive in losses to 5A Arlington (31-22) and 4A Crowley (23-14.)

Re-birth at Wilmer-Hutchins

LaDarrell McNeil remembers the way the Wilmer-Hutchins community supported its high school football team before the school closed six years ago.

“The whole town came to games,’’ said McNeil, a 6-1, 190-pound senior free safety. “With the school re-opening, I feel like I’m coming home.’’

Like many of his teammates, McNeil spent his high school career at A. Maceo Smith, but his early schooling was in Wilmer-Hutchins.

The Dallas Independent School District opted to convert A. Maceo Smith, in its fourth year of academic unacceptability, into a technology high school as part of a repurposing plan. Athletics will not be offered.

McNeil said athletic facilities at Wilmer-Hutchins, which includes its own football stadium, are superior to those at A. Maceo Smith, where the weight room was a portable building.

In 1990, Wilmer-Hutchins won the Class 4A Texas state championship.

“We hope to build on traditions at Wilmer-Hutchins and A. Maceo Smith,’’ McNeil said.

Aledo star RB can catch, too

Aledo has won consecutive Class 4A Division II state titles in part by giving Johnathan Gray the football and watching him run.

That’s not an option in the all-pass format of 7-on-7 football, however.

“Running backs have to be able to catch the ball if they are going to be well-rounded,’’ the Texas Longhorns commit said. “I love catching the ball coming out of the backfield. I look at this as a way to improve my game and have fun.

“My team wants to go to the National Finals and that’s why we’re here,’’ Gray said.

On his first 7-on-7 play Tuesday, Gray hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass.

Lamar’s Brown finds niche as a pass rusher

Sophomore Greg Brown’s enthusiasm proved contagious on the Arlington Lamar sideline.

Brown, normally a running back, was chosen to be pass rusher in situations allowed under Game Breaker rules. He totaled four quarterback “sacks’’ for the day.

After each, he sprinted off the field, encouraging his teammates with every step, yelling, “Let’s go! We got this! Let’s do it!’’

The 5-7, 185-pound Brown said he enjoyed his pass rush experience so much, he wouldn’t be against trying it in the regular season.

Taylor-to-Taylor a good combination for Richland

Junior quarterback Sebastian Taylor guided North Richland Hills Richland to a third-place finish despite missing his favorite receiver, older brother Christian, in the Rebels’ two defeats.

“He’s a key cog in our offense because he goes inside and puts a lot of pressure on the defense,’’ Sebastian said.

Christian hurt his shoulder in the semifinal loss to Arlington Martin.

“It is fun throwing to him,’’ the quarterback said. “Growing up, we’ve probably thrown a million passes to each other.’’

7-on-7: Arl. Martin wins Fort Worth qualifier

June, 15, 2011
FORT WORTH -- TCU commit Devonte Fields’ best position is said to be defensive end, but the Arlington Martin senior showed he can also be a force as a receiver.

An acrobatic catch by Fields in the left corner of the end zone spurred Arlington Martin to a 20-11 victory over Aledo in the championship game of the Red Bull 7-on-7 Game Breakers Fort Worth Qualifier on Tuesday night at O.D. Wyatt High School.

“To make that kind of catch, it takes both strong hands and being a good jumper,’’ Fields said. “It doesn’t surprise me that we won this tournament. We work harder than anybody else. We deserve it.’’

As the top two finishers in a 17-team field, Martin and Aledo became the eighth and ninth to qualify for the Red Bull Game Breakers National Finals on July 15-16 at SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

Quarterback Brodie Lambert credited the defense for Martin’s 5-0 run through the bracket.

“I think it took three games today before a team scored a touchdown on our defense,’’ Lambert said. “Those guys played great all day.’’

The first 7-on-7 appearance this summer by senior running back Johnathan Gray, a Texas commit, helped Aledo (4-2) reach the finals.

“I was involved in track and then I took a little break,’’ Gray said. “It’s great to be out here with my teammates. I love catching the ball out of the backfield.’’

Aledo jumped to an early lead in the championship game on a Matthew Bishop touchdown pass. Martin caught up just before halftime and its defense held the two-time Class 4A Division II state champions without a touchdown in the second half.

North Richland Hills Richland settled for third place, falling to Aledo in overtime on a Bishop hookup to Devan Watts for the winning touchdown.

Denton Guyer, last year’s Class 4A Division I state runner-up, finished fourth.

After losing its opening game, Arlington Lamar put together a streak of four straight wins in the afternoon heat before being ousted by Aledo in a consolation quarterfinal. Lamar tied for fifth with Fort Worth Southwest.