June 3, 2014

Summertime showcase

Southeastern 7-on-7 puts Carpet Capital in spotlight

The Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship is “about much more than just football,” said Gary Jones, advertising sales manager for The Daily Citizen. It’s also about bringing the community together to show off the city of Dalton.

The newspaper’s fourth annual seven-on-seven football tournament, sponsored by Astroturf, returns to the Carpet Capital the weekend of July 12-13. The event attracts high school football teams from throughout the Southeast and beyond, with teams expected to travel from as far away as Illinois and Missouri this year.

Each competing team will be previewed in The Daily Citizen, beginning today with Georgia’s own Colquitt County, last year’s Southeastern champion.

“This tournament has it all this year,” said Jones, who oversees organization of the tournament. “We have state champs, traditional powers, emerging teams, everything.”

Seven-on-seven football — in which each side has seven players rather than the traditional 11 — is played without offensive and defensive lines and only passing plays are allowed. Because there aren’t pads, the play ends once the ball carrier is touched by a defender.

The 32-team field — teams participate for free — will have 12 states represented, Jones said. The field will be separated into four eight-team pools, with pool competition on Saturday. The next day, the top four teams from each pool will take part in a 16-team double-elimination championship tournament. The bottom half of the field will compete in a similarly structured consolation tournament.

“The word has really gotten out about our event,” Jones said. “It was nice to have coaches calling me and asking to be a part of it this year. Most had been referred by a coach that had been part of a previous (year) and had told them about how competitive and well-run the tournament has been.”

Aside from the quality of competition, there are other positives, Jones noted. The Daily Citizen partners with the city of Dalton, including using turf football fields at Dalton Parks and Recreation Department facilities, as well as the Dalton Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote the event and help it run smoothly.

“This is the premier community event that takes place in Dalton, Ga.,” said William Bronson, The Daily Citizen’s publisher. “The Daily Citizen loves to partner with the CVB, the city of Dalton and the community. The display of talent that comes to this event continues to go up and gives football fans a chance to see some of the finest football athletes in the country.”

Southeast Whitfield is one of the local teams signed up for this year’s tournament, and coach Sean Gray has participated with the Raiders the past two years. According to figures from the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department, the tournament’s economic impact — money spent in the area as a result of the tournament’s presence — was $420,000 last year.

“I think it’s a great asset to our community,” Gray said. “It’s well-run, well-organized and a lot of fun, not just for the teams but also the spectators. It’s great competition. You’ll see some of the best teams in the state and other states. I think it’s great for our community and a boost for the economy. I’m just glad we’re part of it because it’s a great experience for the kids and a win-win for everybody.”

Jones sees that beneficial situation going a long way.

“While it is great to be able to bring in high schools from all over the country to face our local teams and give their fan bases something to cheer for, we believe we are serving many purposes with this event,” he said.

“We get to showcase some top-quality turf fields that are made right in here in Dalton, we get to show off some tremendous facilities, we give people from far away a reason to visit our wonderful community, and we also have created a significant economic impact for our area.”

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