Posted: 4:10 pm Sunday, July 10th, 2011
By Matt Porter
They don’t appear in the record books, but 7-on-7s are prime opportunities for teams to grow their skill positions and build together. Saturday’s event, put on by Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Brandon Flowers along with Prep and Sports, brought together 10 teams from Palm Beach County and seven from surrounding counties to Seacrest Athletic Complex in Delray Beach.
It was a fun (and hot) event that ended with Flowers’ alma mater, Atlantic, winning the title over John I. Leonard.
That said, here are some scattered observations:
— Atlantic looked pretty good winning the title. Receiver Chad Ward Jr. might finish his senior season as one of the county’s top possession receivers. Great hands and a big body (6-2, 185). Has an offer from FAU. Big tight end Sam Kelley gives ATL a different look. Eagles have a QB battle brewing, with incumbent starter A.J. Puente looking at a serious charge from Mark Walker, a transfer who played last year at Lauderdale. Both are juniors-to-be and alternated drives during games. Puente has more size and arm strength. Walker is skinny but makes good decisions with the ball. Unrelated note: Walker’s dad, Mark Sr., is an uncle of Miami Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall.
— John I. Leonard was in the final. Did you expect that? Rising junior quarterback Daniel Deshommes isn’t big, but gets lots of air under the ball. He’ll compete for time this fall with classmate Adam Johnson, who couldn’t make the event. Senior receiver Nesly Ouincy had seven catches for about 200 yards, including a 95-yard TD in the spring. The Lancers have two quick DBs in seniors Keymonni Miller and Duke Crawford. Junior middle linebacker Tyson Joseph has a big frame and range. Also have to recognize DB Lamonte Calloway, who picked off a pass in OT against Deerfield to send John I. to the final. The Lancers will replace a lot this fall (the entire backfield, for example), but the future looks bright.
— Village Academy wideout Devonte Robinson turned more heads than anyone at the event. This spring, Robinson has cemented himself as a BCS prospect. Ideal size (6-1, 175) and legit 4.4 speed, leaping ability and good hands. “What more do you want from a kid?” an opposing assistant coach said while watching him. Up to 16 verbal offers, he recently visited FIU and said he’s planning one or two out-of-state visits. Village’s Larry Brihm, a Div. I college prospect, was absent and attending the Manning passing camp in Louisiana, so QB duties fell on backup Andre Thaddies, one of four transfers from Atlantic this offseason.
— Park Vista, which will play Lake Worth in its kickoff classic, is adapting to the spread and showed signs of getting it. With last year’s quarterback, Jason Davis, out with a knee injury, Quad Martin was the full-time guy and displayed lots of athleticism. Did a double-take when I saw Park Vista coach Brian Dodds: he shaved his signature mustache for a team fundraiser. He had his son do it, and it netted $500 for Cobras’ football program. Teammate Jeff Greer had a great delivery when he asked Dodds: “Did you ever think your mustache would be worth $500?” At the same fundraiser, assistant coach Thadd Pokabla had his head shaved, raising $1000 in the process.
— West Boca linebacker Ja Wand Blue was in Blacksburg, Va. visiting Virginia Tech. He recently committed to the Hokies, but I’m told he’s going to take other visits. West Boca will be young and untested on offense this fall.
— Suncoast had a good showing, taking down American Heritage in the preliminary rounds. Jessie Hester’s team has its wideouts and QB Jesse Hap on the same page. Javonta Taylor, Malcolm Sommons and track speedster Antwan Wright, a state-level sprinter, will stretch the field. Suncoast should have one of the county’s best secondaries with with hard-hitting Davison Colimon and Abiade Granger.
— American Heritage looked out of sync, which coach Doug Socha attributed to a lot of time off in June. The Stallions’ best wideout, upcoming senior Cameron Posey, is still recovering from a broken wrist, and linebacker Zach Slafsky has a broken hand suffered at FAU’s recent team camp. He’s able to play, but is a bit limited. Silmore Dalloway didn’t look great, but the cover game isn’t his strength. Marcus Davis showed improvement directing the passing game.
— Dwyer‘s ‘B’ team was quarterbacked by Robbie Nittolo. The ‘A’ team, made up of regular starters, lost to Homestead the final of Saturday’s Nike 7-on-7 Championships in Miami. It beat Hallandale to get to the final. Standouts were receivers Clint Stephens and Julian Whigham, and rising junior cornerback Deandre Bozeman. QB Faton Bauta had an up-and-down day.
— Also from the Nike event, Palm Beach Gardens didn’t execute well, according to coach Chris Davis. He named linebacker Dante Smith and safety Korey Wells as his best players.
— With only 10 players, Jupiter Christian beat Miami-MacArthur, Miami-Booker T. Washington and lost to Hallandale. Quarterback Keddy Bostic and WR/DBs Austin Talbott and Isaiah Nelson were productive, as was slot receiver and DB Nate Daily. The Eagles used 6-foot-7 lineman Taylor Heinz as a tight end, a rare sight in JCS’ offense.
— Martin County was the other area team in Miami, but admittedly, I haven’t heard how they did. (Update: Coach Chuck Kenyon reports the Tigers beat Booker T. Washington and lost to Miami-MacArthur and came back from three scores down in an eventual one-TD loss to Pompano Beach-Blanche Ely. Standouts were receivers Blake Swaney and Nate Simmons, tight end Kyle Baker linebacker Austin Mobley and the Tigers’ Div. I-level DBs, Justin Simmons and Treyvon Johnson.)
— Brandon Flowers said he plans to expand his event next year to teams in the north and central parts of Florida and those out-of-state. Expect a Texas squad to be here next year. Fellow Atlantic alum Orlando Franklin (Miami), drafted 46th overall by the Denver Broncos, was in attendance.
— The event was broadcast live on Skype and Oovoo. If you don’t know what both of those are, you are likely over the age of 30.