They didn't win the championship, but the Edison Red Raiders came home from the NFL's 7-on-7 national 16-team tournament Monday night feeling about as good as it did last month when it beat out a number of talented South Florida schools to earn a trip to New Orleans.
Edison finished 8-2 at the three day event over the weekend, losing to an All-Star team representing the New York area in the semifinals of the tournament. A team from Seattle won the tournament title.
"We didn't win, but we certainly came home proud," said coach Daryl Heidelburg, who took 12 players with him on the trip. "We were only one of three teams in the whole tournament that was actually a team. 13 of the other teams were all-star teams made up of the top players from their area. We lost only one game in the round robin and then we got beat by the Jets in the semis. It was a great bonding experience for our guys. I'm definitely proud of them."
The Red Raiders were represented by quarterback Donovan Jackson, receivers Larry McCoy, Darius Johnson, Kenzer Obando, Phillip Thomas, Carlton Colson, Paul Johnson, Hywatha Joyner, running back Devonta Freeman and linebackers Chaucy Grace, Rashad Bryant and David Hinds.
Heidelburg said his players got a chance to design their own drama skits, dine on Cajun food, play video games and meet NFL players including his former Norland teammate and Saints safety Mike McKenzie.
"It was great. He signed all of their backpacks, talked to them about life and dreaming of the NFL," Heidelburg said. "Our guys got to see the world in a different light, see how guys from other parts of the country play the game. Between the pillow fights and all the good times, I really felt this did wonders for our unity."
-- MANNY NAVARRO