July 26, 2003

7-on-7 All-tournament team and notebook

Hoover, Ala.--Thomas Jefferson High School of Pittsburgh capped three great days of football at Hoover High School by knocking off Shreveport-Evangel Christian, 22-7, to capture the second annual Alabama Power/Southeastern Select 7-on-7 football tournament. Based on BOL's observations, here is our all-tournament team:

QB--Xavier Lee, Daytona Beach (Fl.)- Seabreeze
QB--John Parker Wilson, Hoover (Ala.)
QB--Pete Winovich, Pittsburgh (Pa.)-Thomas Jefferson
QB--Patrick White, Daphne (Ala.)
WR--Jomar Wright, Duncan (SC)-Byrnes
WR--Detrick James, Shreveport (La.)-Evangel Christian
WR--Conner Campbell, Shreveport (La.)-Evangel Christian
WR/DB--Tom McCafferty, Pittsburgh (Pa.)-Thomas Jefferson
WR/DB--Brad Dawson, Pittsburgh (Pa.)-Thomas Jefferson

MVP: Winovich: As a quarterback, Winovich may not be destined for the same greatness enjoyed by past western Pennsylvania legends John Unitas, Dan Marino and Joe Namath, but he improved as the tournament went along and was especially sharp in Jefferson's first win over Evangel on Saturday. He also played defense and virtually never came off the field. As a prospect, Winovich probably projects as an outside linebacker at the mid-major level, but that's also been said in the past about Pennsylvania quarterbacks (see Jim Kelly) who went on to star at the position.

Bucs bow-out before breakfast: An early Saturday morning loss to Panama City-Bay ended host Hoover's tournament. The game appeared to be headed for overtime when Hoover quarterback John Parker Wilson connected with sophomore wide receiver Cornelius Williams from 11 yards out to tie the game, 13-13, late in regulation. However, Bay quarterback Andre Reed took his team quickly down the field and capped the drive by completing a 2-yard touchdown pass with just six seconds left. Wilson's ensuing heave carried the length of the field before falling incomplete. Afterwards, Wilson felt as if his team let too many opportunities slip away. "We had it twice on the (goal line) and didn't get it in," he said. "That was big." Wilson will now head for North Carolina and a week of baseball at the Area Code games. He will also take an unofficial visit to Clemson before returning home next Sunday. Although he's considered to be an excellent baseball prospect, Wilson told BOL that the Clemson baseball program hasn't shown much interest in him to date. With his potential college position up for debate, Hoover linebacker Curtis Dawson was under the microscope all weekend long. In the game against Bay, Dawson made an excellent play in breaking up a pass headed for an open receiver on a seam route. He got good depth on his drop and was in position to make an interception.

Lee impressive in defeat: Daytona Beach (Fla.)-Seabreeze, led by quarterback Xavier Lee, advanced to the final six of the tournament before falling to Niceville (Fla.) in an elimination game. The Seabreeze/Niceville contest was probably the most physical of any played during the tournament. Seabreeze played mostly man coverage, with an emphasis on jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. This was a different approach than what most teams in the field opted for. In an effort to take away deep corner routes, cover four (four deep zone) was the coverage of choice. Lee said that his receivers were tired of getting pushed around by opposing defenses, so Seabreeze decided to get physical in the secondary. "Our receivers have been getting beat-up all tournament long," Lee said. "We decided to do the same thing to them." Overall, Lee felt that the tournament was a good thing for his team. "It helped us polish our offense and get our timing down in the passing game," he said. On the recruiting front, Lee plans to take in a few college games in the fall. "I'm definitely going to the USC-Auburn game." Auburn, along with Florida State, appears to be among Lee's favorites at this point.

Movin' on up: Duncan (SC)-Byrnes wide receiver Jomar Wright already has scholarship offers from Kentucky, Wake Forest and East Carolina, but don't be surprised if the 6-foot-2, 185 pounder has a more impressive list of suitors by season's end. Wright has excellent size, long arms and better than average speed. Clemson is also in the mix and an early offer might prove to be a wise move by Tommy Bowden's staff.

This and that: Jefferson's run to the championship is even more improbable when considering it's offensive numbers from a season ago. With tailback Jon Drager, who rushed for 2,100 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2002, carrying the load the Jaguars attempted fewer than 100 passes on the season. Drager's departure--he'll be a freshman at Kent this fall--has forced head coach Bill Cherpak to focus more on the passing game during the off-season. So far, so good.

Super sophomores: Hoover sophomore wide receiver Cornelius Williams may not be able to make people forget about Florida signee Chad Jackson this season, but in a couple of years he will likely be attracting the same kind of attention. Williams showed outstanding speed and leaping ability on several occasions during the tournament. Running back Chris Grahm is another sophomore that Hoover head coach Rush Propst will be counting on this season. Jefferson has a mini-Matt Millen in linebacker Jason Kolodziej, who started as a freshman for the Jaguars in 2002.

Props to Propst and Co.: Congrats to the Hoover program, specifically Propst and assistant Matt Moore, for putting on a first-class event. Participating teams received top notch care during their stay, including accommodations at the Winfrey Hotel, which is adjacent to the Galleria--a large shopping mall in Hoover. Costs for housing the teams, game officials and insurance tallied approximately $25,000. Without corporate sponsors, this event would not be possible.

Quotable: "Coach, that can't be their real names."--Hoover linebacker Curtis Dawson after reviewing the vowel-challenged last names on the backs of the Jefferson jerseys.

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