By Mark Clark
For the past two years, Central High has won the 7 on 7 competition at the University of Alabama. But, that will not happen this year. Central coach Jamey DuBose says he is going to opt out of this weekend’s event.
Well, the Red Devils are fresh off winning the Gus Malzahn Football Camp’s 2018 7 on 7 Passing Tournament and will rest up before heading to next week’s Wiregrass 7 on 7 at Troy University to give his players a chance to heal from injuries. DuBose has not yet decided if the squad will go to the Cam Newton 7 on 7 in Birmingham next week which will follow the Troy event.
“Playing in 7 on 7 events is not playing football. I would rather get the players healed up and win a game in the fall rather than win a 7 on 7 competition. But, I do think the competition is a way to get the kids to work together as a team,” DuBose said after the Auburn victory. “I was pleased with the way we played, especially defensively. We faced the top three quarterback prospects in the state in the tournament play of the event.”
Not only did Central play the top quarterbacks, it beat them. In all three games, Central trailed and had to rally to win. Twice, the final decision came down to a defensive play.
Central beat Hewitt-Trussville and its quarterback Paul Tyson, an Alabama commit, in the first tournament game after going 6-0 in pool play. A late score by the Red Devils defeated the Huskies and sent Central to the semifinals against Pinson Valley and its quarterback, and Auburn commit, Bo Nix. Central intercepted a pass in the end zone to secure the victory.
Then in the finals, Central beat Thompson and its quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, an Alabama commit. Central held an early lead, but had to score late to take a seven-point lead. Thompson drove down to score in the final seconds and chose to go for two points and the win instead of a tie and forcing overtime. Tagovailoa’s pass to the corner of the end zone was incomplete and the Red Devils won by a point.
“It was good to see the guys perform well against those three quarterbacks, but I was more impressed by the way we found a way to win those three games. We were playing without some of our regular guys because of injuries. A’Montae Spivey did not play in the tournament portion of the event. E.J. Williams had some craps, but we got him back ready for the tournament games. We had a few others nicked up. It was good to see some guys step in to take their places and do well. Robert Marsh had to move to running back and he just whipped some linebackers who had to cover him. It was just fun to see our guys play like they did,” DuBose said.
DuBose also pointed out the play of Ray Thornton and Trey Miller. He said Thornton made interceptions and covered his opponents well. He said Miller had one of the best – if not the best – interception he has seen during his career as a coach.
“Those two guys played really, really good for us. They made plays when we needed them. I do not think I have ever seen an interception as good as the one Trey Miller got against Bo Nix in my career. But, those two were not the only ones to play well. We had several defensive backs play well,” DuBose said.
After playing in next week’s competitions, DuBose said the team will take time off for the Fourth of July before preparing for another 7 on 7 competition in North Carolina in mid-July.
“Playing nine games in a day will take a lot out of your body. I really believe we need to take this week off to heal and rest before we play another competition. Playing in these type games may be fun for the kids, but they do not mean a lot overall. Our goal is to find a way to win in December in Auburn. That’s what we want. But, I do see these competitions developing our kids’ hearts and characters. I see them fight to find ways to win. The kids represented out city well. That is the good part of the competitions. I would not trade our kids for anybody else,” DuBose said.