For the second straight year, the Warriors will be attending the tournament as the lone Cherokee County representative. Coach Josh Shaw said it will be the third and final 7-on-7 event for his players this summer.
“We did one over at North Gwinnett and then the (Hickory Flat Shootout) hosted by Sequoyah,” he said. “This is our last one, and by this point of the year, we hope to be clicking on all cylinders. This is the biggest one that we will attend.”
The pass-only 7-on-7 event varies from a typical game, with possessions beginning at the 45-yard line and players being stopped with touch tackles. First downs are recorded by passing the 25- and 10-yard lines, and teams have three downs to record a first down.
Like a typical game, six points are scored on a touchdown, but points after occur through the air, from the 5-yard line, as opposed to a kick. Teams can attempt a 2-point conversion from the 10-yard line, but only in tournament play.
Defenses can score in two ways — three points for an interception, two for forcing a turnover on downs.
The event at Lassiter, which began with 12 teams in 2008, will have a record 32 team participating this year. Pool play will be held Friday, with tournament play commencing Saturday.
The winner of the event will qualify for next week’s National Select 7-on-7 Championships in Hoover, Ala. Lassiter is already guaranteed a berth to Hoover as the host of this weekend’s qualifier, so if the Trojans win Saturday, then the runner-up would advance.
Many of the state’s top teams, including Lovejoy, Cartersville, Flowery Branch and North Gwinnett are registered for the event. Cherokee will also have to compete with many of its neighbors from Cobb County, including Region 5AAAAAA rivals Lassiter, Walton and Wheeler.
“This is definitely one of the largest and most competitive (7-on-7 tournaments) in the state of Georgia,” Shaw said. “It’s a National Select one, so you have the chance to move on to the national competition, and that makes it all the more competitive.”
Shaw said his players have worked throughout the summer in preparation for this event.
“It’s got the toughest competition,” he said. “Really, we try to do a couple of them in advance so that we are prepared to do well once we get to this one.”
Cherokee will be a part of Pool D with Alpharetta, Eastside (S.C.), Jackson County, Hillgrove’s “B” team, North Cobb, Rabun County and Lovejoy’s “A” team. The Warriors will open play Friday at 3 p.m. against Alpharetta.
Shaw said one of the things that he likes about this particular 7-on-7 tournament is the quality of the opponents.
“Last year, I think that three of the six teams we faced ended up going to the state semifinals,” he said. “For instance, we played Lovejoy and M.L. King and this year it is about, the same. In our pool alone, we have North Cobb and Lovejoy, who both played in the state semis last year, and Lovejoy played for a state championship. So, it’s extremely competitive.”
Shaw said success at 7-on-7 tournaments doesn’t necessarily translate to wins on the field when the season arrives in the fall, but it’s a chance to see how the players compete.
“We face good competition,” he said. “It helps us get throws in, and our receivers get opportunities to catch. And then, our defensive backs and linebackers get a lot of time running our coverages, so it’s good on that part. We hope to do well, but a 7-on-7 doesn’t translate to how your season is going to turn out.”