By Mark Clark
The drudgery of spring practice was broken Monday when Central coach Jamey DuBose made an announcement that his team had received yet another honor on its first day in full pads with some live hitting. The team received an invitation to participate in a national tournament this summer in Charlotte, N.C.
The Red Devils had already committed to playing in the Auburn University 7-on-7 on June 14, the Wiregrass 7-on-7 in Troy on June 28 and the University of Alabama 7-on-7 in July before the invitation to Charlotte came. Central is the two-time defending champions of the University of Alabama 7-on-7 competition. The national tournament at Charlotte will be held July 12-14 and will feature 42 teams from around the nation from 18 different states. Central is the only Alabama team to receive an invitation to the tournament which will be shown on FOX Sports South.
The teams will play in six pool divisions of seven teams each. The teams will then be seeded for the double elimination tournament on Saturday. On Thursday, individual players will compete against other athletes in their positions in a skills event.
“This is an honor. We are the only team from Alabama to be invited to participate. We will give our kids an opportunity to appear on television. It will give our kids more exposure to college scouts and that will lead to scholarship offers. Our kids will get the opportunity to compete against quality athletes from around the nation. I am excited to have this opportunity for our kids,” DuBose said at practice on Monday at Garrett-Harrison Stadium.
Central already has at least six senior players with scholarship offers as they go through spring practice – Quarterback Peter Parrish, Defensive Linemen Bernard Miles, Safeties Ray Thornton and Devonte Mathews and Outside Linebackers Marquez Henry and Wallace Melton. There are also two juniors who have already received the attention of college scouts and offers – Offensive Linemen Javion Cohen and Joshua Jones. So, the Red Devils have plenty of talented athletes to offer to the national tournament line-up of attendees.
“These 7-on-7 camps are the only competitions we are allowed to participate in during the summer, so we are going to take advantage of that. It has been good for us in the past as it has helped us build some team unity. It also gives our skill players the chance to hone their talents against other good athletes,” DuBose said.
But, the tournaments are a ways down the road at this point and not the real concern for DuBose and his coaching staff. The group wants to get the players coming into the program adjusted to how things work and to get the returning players ready to head into summer workouts.
“We will use the spring practices and game to help build some depth. We still have some slots open and the players are going to have to compete to get those slots. Any tweaks we need to take care of we want to take care of during the spring so that the guys will be ready to go into fall practice prepared. We will also find out which players want to be out here with us. Right now, we have a lot of guys out. I quit counting at one hundred and fifty. It ready does not matter right now. I will know how many players we will have out the day before the season begins and I fill out the official roster to turn in to the athletic association,” DuBose said.
The Red Devils will hold their spring game on May 17 at 7 p.m. EDT at Garrett-Harrison Stadium against Eufaula High.