7-on-7 tournament gets players prepped for fall season
Mon. July 23, 2012 at 11:38 p.m. | By Aaron Suttles
Brookwood High School quarterback Parker Bearden passes to a teammate during a game against Gordo at the Showdown in T-Town 7-on-7 football Tournament at Sokol Park on Monday. (Photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter)
TUSCALOOSA | It’s not real football until the helmets are strapped on for week one of the high school season at the end of August, but there were a couple of things learned from Monday’s Showdown in T-Town 7-on-7 Tournament at Northridge High School.
Go ahead and circle your calendars for Oct. 5, when Tuscaloosa County hosts Northridge in a Class 6A, Region 5 tussle. Northridge squeaked by TCHS, 15-14, in an emotionally charged semifinal game that is sure to add fuel to the fire of the regular season contest.
Northridge junior quarterback Tanner Cline threw touchdowns to Bo Scarbrough and Cyontai Lewis in the win. Lewis, a 6-foot-4 junior tight end/wide receiver, transfer from Greene County, had a big day with several clutch catches, adding another weapon in the Jaguars offensive attack to go with Scarbrough and James Cox.
"It’s awesome having him here. He’s a great complement to me and Bo," Cox said. "It doesn’t give defenses the ability to single out just us. He came in and was a little raw, but we’ve worked with him. I think he’s going to turn out to be a great ballplayer.
"He’s gotten better in route running, getting in and out of routes. His hands have gotten stronger and he’s added a little bit more weight."
Tuscaloosa quarterback Tyler Gates threw an interception on the first play of the game and an incomplete hail mary as time expired to end a competitive game. Gates threw touchdowns to Brandon Hall and Tameron Smith to keep Tuscaloosa County close.
Gates, a senior, looked completely comfortable running the Wildcats’ offense and was no doubt the leader in the huddle. He consistently hooked up with Allen Cooks, a 5-foot-4, game-breaking wide receiver who proved just as adept at catching the deep ball as he did the quick slant.
If the duo continues the consistent play they’ve shown this spring and summer, Tuscaloosa County has a chance to make some noise in the new-look Region 5 that added Hoover and Hueytown.
"I feel a lot more confident out there," Gates said. "It’s my senior year. I just want to go out with a bang."
Gates threw the deep ball well and consistently threw to open spots on the field, where his receivers turned in big catches.
"My coaches have been on my back about reading defenses, and so they deserve a lot of credit for that," Gates said. "The game has slowed down for me a lot. My sophomore year everything was coming at me real quick."
Northridge knocked off a feisty Fayette County squad in the finals, 13-12, behind touchdown connections from Cline to Lewis and Cox. Northridge finished 8-0 and tournament champions.
Fayette County dropped from 4A to 3A this season in a region that also includes American Christian Academy and Gordo.
"When I found out we were in that region, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re in the toughest region in the state of Alabama,’" Fayette County coach Lance Tucker said. "It’s a tough region, but it’s going to be a fun region."
Reach Aaron Suttles at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.