REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- Anyone who showed up to Redondo Union High School late Sunday afternoon in hopes of catching the championship game of the IMG Madden 7-on-7 West Regional had to leave disappointed.
B2G Sports co-founders Henry Bell and Ron Allen couldn't have cared less.
When the dust settled on the quarterfinals and semifinals of the winners and losers brackets, it was a B2G's world and everybody else was paying rent. B2G 5-Star bounced back from an underwhelming Saturday performance to run through Sunday's slate undefeated and earn a place in the championship game. After a loss, B2G Scorch rebounded to skate through the losers bracket and earn a spot opposite their workout compatriots.
But because that loss came to the 5-Star team earlier in the day -- at the cost of 100 pushups, the regular fee for a losing proposition during a B2G workout -- the teams simply decided to call it a day, with B2G 5-Star taking home the trophy.
"It feels good, doing something special like that," Bell said of his teams' performances. "It reminds me of the Alabama-LSU game, where it was all SEC. It's a blessing for these kids. They were extremely focused."
It was a big performance from the 5-Star team, which featured cornerback Chris Hawkins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga), safety Tahaan Goodman (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga), cornerback Devin Holiday (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills) and tight end Marcus Baugh (Riverside, Calif./J.W. North), as they were only a few weeks removed from a very disappointing performance at the New Level Athletics Elite 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas. With another chance at a big passing league tournament win, the team did not disappoint, picking up victories against their B2G counterparts as well as Keyshawn Johnson and Brian Kelly's 1925 All-Stars along the way.
"They wanted to do it in Vegas, but they also wanted to come back and bounce back after that and do something very special," Bell said. "They did something very special today. Having two teams in the championship game is major."
Scorch received something of a gift in the semifinal game, as they faced an Inland Empire team coached by former USC standouts Chris Claiborne and Lonnie Ford, which featured ESPN Watch List safety Su'a Cravens (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta). Cravens was arguably the top performer of the entire tournament, excelling at safety as well as wide receiver, but a cramp toward the end of his team's quarterfinal win forced him to sit out the loss to Scorch.
Bell was the coach of Scorch during the tournament and said it's easy to pull for that group against a 5-Star team that has been labeled the "A" squad by many media members during these passing leagues. Although in the end, it was easy for Bell to rejoice in the entire program's success.
While it wasn't a surprise to find the B2G 5-Star team standing at the end of the day, several players did surprise throughout the tournament. Most notable was cornerback Darren Aguon (Temecula, Calif./Chaparral). The Scorch standout is often picked on through the air due to his lack of height, but he came up big over the weekend. Bell estimated that he picked off at least half a dozen passes, with each coming in a big moment. Players from the final two teams voted on an overall tournament MVP, and when the question arose, all fingers pointed toward Aguon.
"That shows a lot from guys like Tahaan and Chris, who have 50 offers between them, that they are humble enough to pick him as the MVP of the weekend," Bell said.
Of course, Hawkins will gladly pass on the individual awards for the team accomplishment. April already has been good enough to him. After earning the defensive back MVP and an invitation to The Opening during the Los Angeles Nike Football Training Camp, Hawkins committed to USC and seemingly has been riding a hot streak ever since the calendar turned.
"We got a chance to showcase all of our talents to the fullest," Hawkins said. "We had a big disappointment in Vegas, but we came out here and showed we are the best 7-on-7 team in the West region."