The Junior Chiefs — the football feeder program for Sequoyah High School — hosted the two-day, 40-team 7-on-7 event for the first time Saturday and Sunday at Badger Creek Park.
Sequoyah claimed the varsity title after coming back from near elimination in pool play.
Darrion Rakestraw brought down a 35-yard reception as time expired to give his team an 18-16 victory over North Forsyth. The win advanced the Chiefs to the championship bracket, where they defeated both Cherokee and Pickens to claim the title.
Sequoyah went 5-2 on the day, with wins coming against North Cobb Christian and Rabun County and losses to Dawson County and Etowah.
The Shootout was the second of four 7-on-7 events Sequoyah coach James Teter intended to take his team to this summer. The Chiefs went 3-3 at the first event, which was hosted by St. Pius X.
Teter said he was particularly pleased with the way his players were able to rally against North Forsyth.
“We had gotten in a situation where we didn’t think we were going to be able to play in the finals, but they did a good job of getting us back in it,” Teter said.
Teter said the 7-on-7 events are a nice way to practice passing during the summer, especially when the Chiefs are typically a run-oriented team.
“It helps us a lot because then, when we get to the season, we can spend more time on our run,” Teter said. “We are spending a lot of time right now just seeing who will replace guys that we lost. I think we will see a lot of guys battling for spots. So far, we have been pleased each week when we go up against another team, or in one of these passing tournaments, because we seem to be getting better at everything we do.”
Teter said it was particularly nice to have an event at home and not have to arrange transportation for all of this players.
“It was pretty nice to be right down the street from the school,” said Teter, who worked with his staff and the Junior Chiefs to put everything together.
Jeffery Wells, who helped put the event together, said that, from a fund-raising view, it was also a success. He said that it took six months of planning and scores of volunteers.
“We had two beautiful days surrounded by football,” Wells said. “It took a lot of volunteers from the Sequoyah nation. It really takes a village. A lot of people were working hard to make sure that the event was a success.”
More than 800 athletes participated, and spectators pitched tents for shade.
“It all went very smooth,” Wells said. “It was fabulous for football in June. We received a lot of compliments from the coaches, not only for the event, but for the competitiveness of it. They felt they learned a lot about their teams. They said that they would be back next year.”
One of the things that set the Shootout apart from other 7-on-7s was that there were age divisions for seventh- and eighth-grade teams. Many tournaments are strictly varsity events.
“For the younger kids, JV down, it will only benefit your program with getting those kids exposure,” Wells said.
Sequoyah also earned the junior varsity title, while Lambert won the freshman division Saturday. A day later, North Paulding won the seventh- and eighth-grade levels.