Two months ago, they were just a number of individuals, who were cut from the defending national champion South Florida Express. On Sunday, this group of players once again stunned everyone by doing the unexpected.
“We won it all,” said South Florida Fire head coach Dennis Marroquin. “We came up here to Alabama and beat some pretty good teams and went unbeaten. We are regional champs of the Badger 7-on-7 event”
A team that stunned the Express in the title game of the state tournament back in March at the University of South Florida, the Fire capped off a successful weekend at Alabama’s Samford University, beating team Georgia, 35-0, to win the Southeast Regional Tournament.
The win, by the tournament’s No. 1 seed, will now send this quality group of athletes to Dallas over the July Fourth holiday to compete for the national title.
As he has been throughout the past few months, Hialeah 2012 linebacker Andy Garcia came up big in all seven games, earning the Defensive MVP. The 5-11, 220-pounder made play after play, shutting the door on every opponent.
“People continue to want to doubt Andy Garcia,” said Marroquin. “He has been getting it done against everyone since I first met him. This weekend, he had five picks!”
On offense, it was another Hialeah standout that sparked the South Florida-based team, which featured players from all over Florida. Class of 2012 running back Hanlsey Fleurejus was impressive in every game. For leading the team to an average of 28 points per game against some of the nation’s top teams, Fleurejus is the MVP on Offense.“Hansley lifted us with his speed and big play capabilities,” Marroquin said. “When we needed a play, he made it.”
Other tournament standouts included Plantation’s Deshawn Lindsey, American defensive back Larry Hope as well as Coral Springs speedster Dion Witty, Robert Moore (Hialeah), Carl Marc (Hialeah) and Dr. Krop standout Johnnie Durante.
Some of the other players who stepped up during the seven game tournament, which also had teams from Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and New Jersey, include Alonso Faison (Dr. Krop), Joshua Wright (Plantation), Adrian Burton (Blanche Ely), Zachary Daise (Dillard), Ghierry van der Kuyp (Hialeah), Tyler Cogswell (American Heritage Plantation) and Jacksonville Bishop Kenny 2013 prospects Ahmad Fulwood.
“This was a team that came together game after game,” Marroquin said. “Now, we get back to spring football for this next month and then concentrate on the national tournament during the month of June.”
The Fire also received a lift from Dionte Taylor (Stranahan), Brion Grove (West Palm Beach King’s Academy), Bruce Natson (Boyd Anderson), Carlian Lewis (Carol City), Royal Palm Beach standout Tremaine McCullough and Gainesville defensive back prospect Chris Bivins Gainesville.