HOOVER, Ala. - Many expected the Southeastern Select 7-on-7 tournament at Hoover to come down to two teams, Springdale, Ark. and Duncan(SC) Byrnes, but Hoover crashed its own party, taking the tournament without losing a game. Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain, the nation's top-rated prospect at his position did help lead his team to the title game, but came up short.
"We really wanted to win this thing again," Mustain said. "This is the most prestigous 7-on-7 in the South and we wanted to get it done for the second straight year. It's dissappointing that we didn't win, but we played hard and made it all the way to the championship, but just came up short. Hoover is a great team."
It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that Hoover won its own tournament. After all, the Bucs were the most highly ranked team in the tourney finishing the year as the naiton's No. 4 high school team in the USA Today poll. However, Hoover's biggest strengths are its offensive and defensive
lines which are taken out of the equation in a 7-on-7 and teams like Springdale and Byrnes are built for this type of tournament.
Hoover beat the Bulldogs 34-15 in the title game, but it was a third round game in which the Bucs beat the Bulldogs 26-25 that made the difference.
"I think a lot of people didn't think we could beat Springdale," Hoover wide receiver Cornelius Williams said. "We came up with some big plays on offense and scored when we had to, but our defense just kept stepping up
and making big time plays. In that first game both teams were fresh and we had to really play well to win it. In the championship they had played four straight games and we'd been off the game before so we were fresh."
One of the biggest surprises of the tournament was the group from Niceville,
Fla. The Eagles, led by running back Devon Freeman, who holds an Ole Miss offer, upset powerful Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian in the second round and made it all the way to the quarterfinals before being upended by Byrnes.
"We came out kind of flat the first two days," Freeman said. "We really came out and played much better today, I think we got things together. There were some great players out here. Mitch Mustain was really impressive, but our quarterback John Paul Fraities was as good as anyone out here."
This is the first year that Evangel Christian has failed to make it to at least the semifinals. While Evangel is still young, losing is not something that they are accustomed to.
Safety Dan Kreamer already has scholarship offers from Tulsa, Mississippi State and Northwestern as a safety, but he will not just be playing defense this year. Kreamer took the reigns of quarterback this weekend and will be the team's signal aller this season as well.
"We come out here with one goal every year and that is to win this tournament," Kreamer said. "We wanted to go undefeated and win it all. We're not used to losing much, but we just didn't get it done. We did some good things and some bad things I though, but we showed improvement throughout."
Winnsboro (SC) Fairfield Central almost threw a big kink in things, when the Griffins were up on Springdale with less than 20 seconds remaining in a quarterfinal game. However, Mustain hit big tight end Ben Cleveland with under 10 seconds remaining to win the game, 22-17. Fairfield Defensive back Darius Gaither displayed great coverage all weekend, but was dissappointed with the game's result.
"We came close, but that isn't good enough," Gaither said.
"I thought we had them. The tight end made a good catch in the corner of the endzone and we all thought he was out of bounds, but I don't guess he was. That quarterback was starting to get a little tired and the ball was getting slippery out there because everyone was sweating so much. We were able to pick off a few passes, but when it mattered he got it done."