When Brett Goetz began the South Florida Express 7-on-7 team over a decade ago, nobody could have ever predicted the success that this offseason talent showcase could have ever experienced.
In a space of three years, teams were starting to pop up nationally – and then with more and more high school coaches, believing that having their athletes involved, teams started to appear locally.
The Florida Fire and Team Strong Arm were the first to start winning titles with elite prospects. Then, in just the past four years no less than 10 new teams have hit the circuit, adding to the exposure.
“Having more and more all-star level teams open things up for our athletes to stay in shape and impress those recruiting sites,” said Eddie Crespo, who founded and runs RedZone Elite. “Just in the past two years, new programs have been started that want to keep many of their own players close.”
Strong Arm is a perfect example of that – with many of its top prospects who also play for Carol City.
The 7-on-7 craze hasn’t always been popular with some of the “old school” coaches, who weren’t so keen on their players being recruited by other schools. But we have passed that hurdle and many of these elite athletes are now playing year round – and many are being discovered as far away as Las Vegas – where many of the local programs went last year.
“Different people get to see athletes that they never would have the opportunity to watch – it if wasn’t for the 7-on-7 events,” Florida Fire Founder & Organizer Dennis Marroquin. “Through 7-on-7 events, the athletes get away from home and see colleges and have the opportunity to compete against elite athletes like themselves.”
With programs such as the South Florida Express, Florida Fire and Strong Arm getting national attention, other local programs are right behind – stocking their rosters with impressive athletes that college coaches are watching as well.
For Hard Knocks Foundation Founder Derrick Lester, the 7-on-7 experience has opened many new horizons for his young athletes. What the foundation does is help youngsters stay off the streets – with many options available.
“Last year we went to California to take part in a national event,” Lester recalled. “Not only did we finish in second place – competing against some of the best programs around – but it was indeed a life experience for all. Some of those players and coaches had never flown on a plane before.”
With many prospects wanting to play, having three Florida Fire teams, the Miami Immortals, Chamber Elite, NGTHMR and GVP All-Stars.
THIS WEEKEND PROMISES TO BE AMAZING
The Pylon 7-on-7 event in Orlando this weekend will feature reams from 10 states – as well as the usual local teams, all trying to get a leg up on the competition – and for some elite teams- establish what they have this year.
The tournament not only features the elite high school teams, but several 15 and under squads that will also compete.
Programs are coming from Georgia, Texas, California, Washington, Michigan, Virginia
There is plenty of interest in the local teams from South Florida. Among those include Camp K (Miami), Hard Knocks (Miami), Nghtmr (Miami), Strong Arm (Miami), Fire (Miami), Fire South, Fire Palm Beach, South Florida Express11 (Miami), Epic Elite (Delray Beach), Florida Lightning (Pompano Beach) and the Miami Immortals (Miami).
Here is a look at the other teams who will be on hand:
Team PASS (Douglasville, GA.)
We Got Next (Tallahassee)
Max Ex (Harper Woods, MI)
Max EX Blue (Harper Woods, MI)
Team Texas Swoosh (Westlake, TX.)
Treasure Coast Elite (Port St Lucie)
RNR Hurricanes (Kissimmee)
TIGHT ACTION SPORTS – ELITE (Tallahassee)
GameTime Prep (Tallahassee)
Team Florida Black (Largo)
Enhance Sports Training (Jacksonville)
352 Stars ORANGE (Ocala)
352 STARS GREEN (Ocala)
Tallahassee Recordbreakerz (Tallahassee)
WIN WIN ELITE (Tallahassee)
Central Florida All-Stars (Ocoee)
Burch Sports Performance (Jacksonville)
Metro VA T2G Gold (Leesburg, Va.)
Catch the South Florida High School Sports Radio Show each week on WQAM (560AM). For the past 10 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot!
PHOTO COURTESY OF @Footballvilletv (Twitter)