July 17, 2012

Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship: Second edition of tourney a ‘success’

By Devin Golden

— As the Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship wrapped up Sunday, event organizers were already looking ahead to the summer of 2013.

A total of 32 teams from seven states across the southeast region converged on Dalton for The Daily Citizen’s two-day football feast.

This was the second year having the tournament, and Cartersville took home the top trophy in the Championship Bracket, beating out Martin Luther King Jr. in the finale.

Games were 25 minutes and played two at a time on each of the four fields to have eight games going on at once. A total of 217 games were played Saturday — after subtracting forfeits — and 60 more on Sunday.

The loaded, non-stop schedule could have resulted in games starting later and schedule troubles, but everything stayed on course per the clock, tournament officials said.

“When you have that many games going on in different sites, you expect a few hiccups along the way,” said Gary Jones, The Daily Citizen’s advertising director. “We expected a few going in, but we really didn’t have many setbacks at all.”

This year’s 32 teams was an expansion from the 20-team format used in 2011.

While 2013’s version of the Southeastern is around 365 days away, Jones said the idea of expanding the field or adding more events within the tournament is on the minds of organizers and planners.

“I think 32 right now is a good number but we’re looking at how to make everything better,” Jones said. “What we’re planning now, we’ve heard mostly good things, but we want to hear the knocks against it and how to improve.

“I think next year we want to focus more on the seven-on-seven product and less on the combine,” he said. “We’ve talked about doing a lineman challenge or something of that sort, but that’s just been kind of thrown around.”

Christian Byrd, tournament director, said he and others have not discussed expanding the field more for the 2013 version, instead looking for more ways to make it the premier seven-on-seven summer spectacle.

“Our hope is to make it the best possible tournament we can and bring the best possible teams that fit our model,” he said. “I think it was a success both for the coaches that attended in terms of getting repetitions in for the players and also for the community in all the people it brought in and the community involvement we had.”

Byrd got a chance to watch a couple games amid the hustle and bustle of running the event. He thinks it was a great display of the high school football talent in this region of the country.

“I had the opportunity to watch several games off and on and I think what we saw was a good idea of what we’re dealing with in Southeastern football,” he said. “We had athletes across the board and the competition was certainly better than last year.”

Luckily, only brief moments of rain crossed over James Brown Park and the Mack Gaston Community Center, once each day. Neither time did the weather halt play.

“If anything I think the rain cooled everybody off and kept morale up,” Byrd said. “I think the rain for both days was a good thing. We avoided lightning and the things that would stop people from playing.”