7 on 7 nationals
What: IMG Madden Championships
Where: Bradenton, Fla.
Players: Michael Fiacable, Dwenger; David Morrison, Concordia; Grayson Baston, Homestead; Charles Gaston, Luers; Isaac Griffith, Homestead; Jordan Hogue, New Haven; Jared Murphy, Columbia City; Ryan Watercutter, Dwenger; Jaylon Smith, Luers; Michael Hicks, Concordia; Marcus Moon, Dwenger; Matt Skowronek, Homestead; Kendrick Mullen, Luers; Andrew Spencer, Luers; Gerald McGee, Dwenger; Nick Reese, Snider; Kye Black, Wayne; Chance Young, Luers; Jamitreus Crockham, Hamilton Southeastern; Spencer Schnell, Elkhart Central; Trevor Roop, Crestview (Ohio)
Coaches: Antoine Taylor, Mike Ledo, Aaron Lane, Virgil Tharp
FORT WAYNE — A 7-on-7 competition used to be a way for high school football teams to stay in shape during the summer. Now, it’s grown with numerous tournaments and even a national championship this weekend in Bradenton, Fla.
After winning a regional qualifier in Detroit in May, the Fort Wayne-based Athletes With Purpose 7-on-7 team will be among those competing for a national title.
The team is made up of 22 players, 19 from northeast Indiana. The roster includes Notre Dame recruit and Bishop Luers senior linebacker Jaylon Smith, Indiana recruit and Homestead senior receiver Isaac Griffith, Bishop Dwenger junior quarterback Michael Fiacable, Columbia City senior receiver Jared Murphy, Bishop Luers senior defensive back Tyvel Jemison and Concordia linebacker Michael Hicks.
Murphy was named the MVP of the regional tournament in Detroit.
“We have come close to a lot of titles, but I think this is the first one we have ever won,” Murphy said. “It was a tournament where we came in with everybody healthy and ready to play. We were thought of being one of the better teams, but not expected to win.”
The AWP team beat out Core 6 and Maximum Exposure for the top spot at the regionals.
“We have worked really hard the last couple of months,” Fiacable said. “We have competed the whole time, and we have worked together.”
The team carries two quarterbacks, with Concordia’s David Morrison being the other one.
“It is a group effort, but it is hard to be successful without a good quarterback,” Murphy said. “It is big to have them (Fiacable and Morrison) and the receivers on the same page. It is good to have the timing down because that’s what a lot of 7-on-7 is. Defensively, it is about communicating and them having good teamwork. That’s what our defense does so well.”
Smith, Jemison, running back Charles Gaston and defensive backs Kendrick Mullen, Chance Young and Andrew Spencer are all part of a Luers team that will be going for its fourth straight Class 2A state championships in the fall.
“It means a lot to us as a team when we won that 7-on-7 (tournament),” Jemison said. “It helped put our state on the map for football because we are known for basketball. We just executed on everything and had great communication. Everybody played their role.”
One of the team’s coaches, Mike Ledo, said the rules of 7-on-7 vary from tournament to tournament with different scoring options.
“Timing and being able to have connections with your receivers and having the defense play well also,” Fiacable said of the keys to 7-on-7 football.
“It helps get me better arm strength and more focus on the defense and knowing how to read the defense and what they are in.”
The various 7-on-7 circuits help in other ways, too.
“Not only do you get college exposure, but you get your name out there,” Jemison said. “You get ranked and you have the scouts writing reports about you and coaches see that and you get videos, and you get to compete against the top of the line guys.”