The IMG7v7 Southeast Regional Championship concluded on Sunday with an all-Miami finale when the South Florida Express Elite faced off against the Florida Fire. The SFE Elite squared off with the Fire earlier in the day, and was sent to the loser’s bracket after suffering a one-point loss, 19-18. However, that would be the last loss on the day for the SFE Elite, who eliminated Team Tampa Too, Team Tampa and the No. 1 seeded Central Florida Top recruits on their way to the championship final, where they would have to defeat the Fire twice to claim the championship.
The Florida Fire rode a 19-game winning streak into the final, but SFE Elite did not flinch, and overcame with the Fire in a defensive struggle in Game 1 by a score of 12-9. In the second game, the Florida Fire was determined to avenge their first loss in three events, but their powerful offense struggled to find the endzone for the second straight game. With only seconds remaining, SFE Elite QB Sean White (University School, Miami, Fla./Class of 2014) stood tall in the pocket and threw a bullet to WR Sam Bruce (University School, Miami, Fla./Class of 2016), nephew of former NFL great Isaac Bruce, for the game winning TD, and the championship, 19-13.
“I just saw Sam Bruce, he’s a stud, beat his man to the outside, and I just threw it and put it there and he made the great catch,” White said of the game winning pass. “[The Florida Fire] were a good team, and it was fun to go against them – they were competitive, and that’s always a fun environment to play in.”
For the SFE Elite, this marked their second consecutive title in the Southeast Regional Championship. Last year, the SFE Elite, led by QB Akeem Jones, overtook Team Tampa for the championship to earn their place in the IMG7v7 National Championships. Once again, SFE Elite will look forward to defending their Regional Championship against the nation’s elite at the National Championships this summer.
“It was just great determination, and these kids wanted it – I thought they were running out of fuel a few games ago, but they took it personally, they’re competitors,” head coach Brett Goetz said of the championship win. “We’re excited to defend our Southeast Championship from last year, and we’re excited to come back her this summer and do it again.”
The South Florida Express Elite came out on top, but they are only one of four teams to qualify for a place in the IMG7v7 National Championships. Joining them will be runners-up Florida Fire, Central Florida Top Recruits and Team Tampa. The IMG7v7 Southeast Regional is the first of six direct qualifiers into the National Championships. The next direct qualifier will take place in Los Angeles, Calif. at the IMG7v7 West Regional, May 4-5.
PHOTO COURTESY OF IMG