Prep Football: West Rowan in national spotlight
By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA — When you win three straight state championships and own the nation’s longest winning streak at 46, summer vacation can wait.
That’s the way it is for Scott Young’s West Rowan football team. A total of 29 players and 10 coaches had a very early wake-up call today as they boarded a bus at 5:35 a.m. for the 7-hour, 6 minute drive to Hoover, Ala.
Ahead of them is the largest and most prestigious 7-on-7 event in the country.
The ninth-annual event, called the National Select 7-on-7 is sponsored by Under Armour. It gets under way today at Hoover High School’s Buccaneer Stadium. The Falcons will return to Rowan County on July 23.
“We’re honored to get the invitation,” Young said Wednesday night from Greensboro while watching two of his former Falcons — Davon Quarles and Trey Mashore — play in the East-West game. “We’re really excited.”
The Falcons won’t have much time to relax once they arrive just after lunch. They open with Mandeville, La. Young didn’t know anything about Mandeville. He didn’t have to.
“They’re all good,” he said.
Young praised the loyalty of his community. Several individuals and businesses provided the funds to make the trip possible.
West has already been down to Charlotte for a 7-on-7 sponsored by the Carolina Panthers and has traveled the area several times, including Monday.
But none can compare for the national attention like this one.
Some of the best talent in the country will take part in the event, including several teams with state championship credentials. Besides West and Mandeville, other teams include Allentown Central Catholic (Pa), Angola (In), Aurora Christian (Il), Brighton (Tn), Carver Montgomery (Ala), Daphne (Ala), Dorman (SC), Fairhope (Ala), Fayetteville (Ark), Grayson (Ga), Hoover (Ala), Kenton (Ohio), Lassiter (Ga), McGill Toolen (Ala), McPherson (Ks), Memphis University School (Tn), North Gwinnett (Ga), Olive Branch (Ms), Oxford (Ala), Prattville (Ala), Shiloh Christian (Ark), Spain Park (AL), Spanish Fort (Ala), Bastrop (La), Thomas Jefferson (Pa), Walker (Ala), Warren Central (In) and West Monroe (La).
Hoover is the No. 1-ranked prep football program in the U.S. as calculated by fan and web data. The tournament has seen more than 140 of the best high school football programs and players over the past decade — players who comprise an alumni roster that reads like a “WHO’s WHO” of college and NFL All Americans/All Pro players.
What Falcon will stand out this year? Young is breaking in two new quarterbacks in Connor Edwards and Zay Lasster. They’ll be throwing to the likes of senior receivers Jarvis Morgan, Quentin Phifer and Louis Kraft, among others. Dinkin Miller, an 1,800-yard rusher last year and a preseason all-state pick, will come out of the backfield.
Brandon Sheppard, executive director for the National Select 7 on 7, says in an e-mail that there has been some negative 7-on-7 publicity but this is a true team competition.
“It’s very encouraging to know that we can provide an event that allows football coaches at their respective schools to keep their football players active and a part of their teams during the summer, while allowing them to prepare as a team for the upcoming football season —and not use 7 on 7 as a recruiting tool, like some of these other events out there are doing,” Sheppard said.
“We’re excited and hopeful that we can continue to provide the true amateurism that exists in high school football, and do so in a very competitive environment.”
It will be competitive, as Young has reminded his team.
“They need to be ready to compete,” Young said.
NOTES: Former Alabama standouts Julio Jones and Marcell Dareus will be on hand Saturday to congratulate the semifinal teams and to wish them good luck. … Viewers can watch games live for free on their computer at www.select7 on 7.com, and on mobile devices by going to m.ihigh.com and clicking on the “Media” button.