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Atlantic falls short in USF 7-on-7; Hallandale surprises

Last weekend, the South Florida region became the latest teams to meet the challenge in one of the state’s best 7-on-7 tournaments, the University of South Florida Sling & Shoot event in Tampa.

While some south Florida area schools have hesitated to come to the event in the past, others such as Deerfield Beach, Hialeah and Miami Central opened the doors. Soon, Delray Beach Atlantic, Boca Raton and Hollywood Hills found their way to a tournament that annually brings in some very good teams.

This year, Atlantic came, and the Eagles were mighty good. So did Boca Raton and Hollywood Hills, who fielded some very athletic teams. This year, McArthur and Hallandale also joined in and did extremely well.

McArthur finished 6-2, and did quite well with a young team that is trying to get back in the mix. Odane Gordon, Nick North and Javon Smith all did well. Hollywood Hills had a 7-2 record to show for two solid days as 6-2, 185-pound quarterback Jerry Kaplan (Piper transfer), receiver Courtney Clark, Jr. and defensive back Tony Grimes all did well. The Spartans took some quality Tampa area team to the wire. Boca Raton and junior quarterback Eddie Sullivan, who we have covered all summer, also finished up with a 6-2 record.

Hallandale, a team that does not participate in many 7-on-7 events, made it all the way to the quarterfinals, being upset by Tampa Jefferson and ending the two days with a very impressive 7-1 mark as USF commits Victor Marc and Ricardo Dixon made some big plays for coach Dameon Jones and the Chargers.

As for Atlantic, this quality football team was really on display for the two days as senior cornerback Jayron Hosley showed just why he is one of the top players in the region, leading the Eagles to the title game with powerhouse Tampa Plant and University of Georgia-bound quarterback Aaron Murray.

In a game that went back and forth, Atlantic sent the game in overtime before losing 26-25. What a tremendous game for Hosley, who had two picks and two extra points receptions. Hosley may be the best pure cover-corner in Florida for the Class of 2009.

In addition to the south Florida teams, the final four also had Plant, Tampa Jefferson and Citra North Marion. Also, the field brought in Jacksonville Lee, Orlando Dr. Phillips, Clearwater Countryside, Lakeland Lake Gibson and Zephyrhills.

There were also Venice, St. Cloud, Sarasota Riverview, Naples Gulf Coast, Longwood Lyman, Lakeland George Jenkins, Lake Weir, Punta Gorda Charlotte, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney and Clermont East Ridge.

Tampa area programs such as Tampa Alonso, Clearwater Countryside, Brandon, Pinellas Park, Tarpon Springs East Lake, Dade City Pasco, Spoto, Tampa Middleton, Spring Hill Springstead, St. Petersburg Gibbs, Valrico Bloomingdale, St. Petersburg Lakewood, Tampa Riverview, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, Tampa Freedom, Tampa Leto and Clearwater Central Catholic were also on hand.

This year, an offensive line clinic was started. The linemen, who went through skills drills for two days also had a number of Miami-Dade and Broward linemen as well.

We also continued to discover some new players to keep an eye on as well as quality players who only enhanced their already lofty rankings.

Murray is for real, and whether he is only 6-1, 190 or not, he throws the ball all over the place.

With our state top 25 for the Class of 2010 due to be released over the next few weeks, we have two players who are in that list, and over the weekend, neither did anything to make me change my mind. Venice quarterback Trey Burton is a big time prospect, and with respect to Jeffrey Godfrey at Central, Burton is 6-4, 217, runs a 4.5 and throws the ball 65 yards in the air. He is a former running back. To me, Venice is the team that will serve as an obstacle for St. Thomas this season.

The other player is Orlando Dr. Phillips receiver Ricardo Miller. At 6-2, 185, he is as good as you get.

While many of the summer tournaments are finished, we will continue to visit schools and check in on the progress of the players and teams. This summer, we had the opportunity to watch nearly 5,000 Florida players live and in person!

LARRY BLUSTEIN
lblustein@miamiherald.com

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