ROYAL PALM BEACH – Nationally-recognized powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas, which has won three of the last four FHSAA Class 5A state titles, has accepted an invitation to participate in the sixth annual Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 Championship. St. Thomas has gone 27-1 over the last two seasons, winning the 2010 championship.
The invitation-only tournament features many of the top programs in the state in addition to St. Thomas, including Class 6A champion Miami Central along with four finalists – Orlando-Dr. Phillips (6A), Tampa Plant (5A), Miami Norland (3A) and Warner Christian (1B).
“St. Thomas Aquinas is a first-class organization and we’re happy to have them join our star-studded field,” said Evans, an 11-year NFL veteran who graduated from King’s Academy. “This is probably the deepest, most talented field we’ve ever had.”
The tournament, which benefits the Heath Evans Foundation, is scheduled for Saturday (June 18) at 9 a.m. at The King’s Academy in West Palm Beach. Teams will be split into divisions and play a round-robin format in the morning. There will be single-elimination competition in the afternoon with the semifinals set for 3 p.m. and the championship game scheduled for 4 p.m.
Acknowledged as one of the premier summer 7-on-7 tournaments in the country, the event provides a glimpse at almost 100 major college prospects.
Other top teams who previously accepted invitations include defending champion Miramar, Dwyer, Booker T. Washington of Miami and Broward County powerhouse Ely. Host King’s Academy, Cypress Bay, McArthur, Palm Beach Gardens, Vero Beach and Chaminade-Madonna round out the field.
However, the tournament committee has not heard from Orlando-Dr. Phillips in about a week and it is unsure whether they will attend the event.
“We understand there are some travel issues with them,” said Glenn Martin, Heath Evans Foundation president. “It is our understanding they did not submit a travel request into their district in time and may not be able to drive down the morning of the event.”
Usually several NFL players attend the event as well, according to Evans, the starting fullback for the New Orleans Saints who graduated from King’s Academy. They are often on the sidelines watching and providing tips to the high school players. New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who graduated from Santaluces High School and the University of Miami, is committed to attend.
“This is a great opportunity for some of the best high school players in the country to showcase their skills and for all of the players to become better leaders, to become men of leadership, integrity and character,” said Evans.
In addition to the skill players, high school linemen will have their own competition.
The Chick-Fil-A Lineman’s Challenge features a series of events, including a combine-style bench press, an agility challenge course and head-to-head tire flip over a 30-yard course. An individual champion will be crowned as well as an overall team champion.
There will also be a new event, the Fastest Man Challenge, a 40-yard dash featuring one representative from each team.
The Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 Championships, presented by Hulett Environmental, is open to the public. Tickets are $5 person and available at the gate. The King’s Academy is located at 8401 Belvedere Road, approximately one mile east of 441.
Proceeds from this tournament will benefit the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Heath Evans Foundation, which is dedicated to fostering hope and healing in the lives of children and families affected by sexual abuse. It is committed to breaking the cycle of abuse through healing the psychological, physical, and spiritual wounds inflicted on innocent children; to bring hope and healing to the young victims of sexual abuse.
For more information, visit www.HeathEvans.org.
2010 -- Miramar
2009 – Booker T. Washington
2008 – Jupiter Christian
2007 – Pahokee
2006 – Glades Central