Area teams win 7-on-7 titles
July 18, 2011
LITTLE ROCK The weekend was pretty good to a pair of Arkansas teams in national 7-on-7 tournaments.
On the same Saturday afternoon, 649 miles apart, Pulaski Academy and Lake Hamilton before took home titles from the events they played in, both on a national level.
The Bruins capped an undefeated run in the Mel Kiper 7-on-7U Invitational in Oakton, Va., while the Wolves won the Music City 7-on-7 tournament.
"Our kids had a lot of confidence when we went up there," Pulaski Academy coach Kevin Kelley said, "and we played good teams with really big names. It was really a highly touted group."
In all, the teams survived 59 teams from 14 different states over the three day events to win their respective titles.
The Bruins were invited to the event near the Washington D.C.-area by Mel Kiper himself and showed well in their time there, winning all but one game by at least 10 points during the knockout rounds.
The lone close game? The finals against Maryland power Calvert Hall — a team the Bruins also beat in their Red Division bracket final on Friday — in which Pulaski Academy squeaked out a 30-26 win to bring back a nationally-renown title to their west Little Rock campus.
"This gave us a lot of confidence," Kelley said. "We were put in a lot of situations. And what I mean by that is we were put against a lot of teams that just looked the part. They had the 'bus factor' as we call it. They get off the bus and you'd be like 'wow.' And so we had to overcome some of that, the intimidation of the physical appearance."
The Wolves enjoyed similar success in their tournament, held at Vanderbilt University, winning all but a second round contest by at least 10 points, defeating Wren (S.C.) 32-22 in the finals. Lake Hamilton finished 11-3 overall in the tournament, including pool play, entering the playoff portion as a no. 6-seed.
According to an article on Rivals.com from the event, Lake Hamilton was led by quarterback Levi Runyan and his receivers Dre Bennett and Dante Ransom.
Lake Hamilton returns a majority of their starters in the fall from a team that went 9-4 and lost in the Class 6A semifinals to eventual state champion El Dorado.
The exposure was a bonus for both squads, but the confidence they received from beating out national competition could go a long way to helping the teams get over the proverbial state title hump this season. Pulaski Academy fell in the Class 4A state title game last season to Shiloh Christian.
"We were put in situations where we had to fight back or make big plays at certain times," Kelley said. "We had to move the ball consistently down the field on offense, run the clock, do some things in real football to preserve wins."
Both teams will now settle back into their routines until team can break out the pads, beginning August 7.