The host Trojans fell short of a third-straight title after being eliminated in the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination tournament at Frank Fillmann Stadium. All was not lost, though, since Lassiter already had a spot at next week’s national championship in Hoover, Ala., as host of this week’s regional qualifier.
The fifth-seeded Trojans, who had a first-round bye, fell into the losers’ bracket after a 21-19 loss to North Gwinnett in the second round.
Lassiter, however, came back strong with a 32-8 victory over Chattanooga (Tenn.) Christian and a 24-9 win over Walton. But a 14-13 loss to Kell ended its hopes for a three-peat.
“We were very inconsistent on offense (Saturday),” Lassiter coach Jep Irwin said. “Our defense played really well. We just had the one game (Friday) where our defense didn’t play well. Offensively, we were really inconsistent. We dropped some balls. We made some throws we didn’t need to make.”
Despite the early exit, Irwin said the tournament was a positive experience for his team.
“We’re still working. We’ve improved over the summer,” he said. “The competition is so great right now. It will really expose any weaknesses that you have. We have to work at being consistent — to do the little things right — and that’s what it’s about in 7-on-7, because every play matters, every position matters.”
Kell, Walton and Kennesaw Mountain were eliminated in the earlier rounds.
The eighth-seeded Longhorns opened the day with a 21-10 victory over Florence (Ala.), but then dropped a 32-0 loss to Alabama powerhouse Hoover, the eventual tournament champion.
Kell fought back with its victory over Lassiter and a 24-17 win over North Gwinnett, but the Longhorns’ run came to an end with an 18-9 loss to Lovejoy.
For Kell coach Derek Cook, it was an improved performance from Friday’s showing in pool play. It was a sense of deja vu for the Longhorns, who were eliminated by Lovejoy in the second round of last year’s Class AAAA state playoffs
“(Saturday) was much better than (Friday) in terms of our effort, focus and intensity,” Cook said. “We came out (Saturday) morning and were sharp, had played well, and then we ran into Hoover, which is really good and they really put it on us. Then, we bounced back well, and we were able to take care of Lassiter and North Gwinnett, and then we got Lovejoy after that. We played a lot of guys both ways. Lovejoy is a great team. They sent us home.”
Walton started out the day with a win over Lassiter’s JV team, but it lost to North Cobb.
The Raiders came back with a 34-0 rout of Jackson County, but saw their tournament run come to an end with the loss to Lassiter.
“I think we did fine,” Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo said. “Our kids came out and competed and played hard (Saturday). I think we had a good day.”
The day ended early for Kennesaw Mountain as the Mustangs first lost to North Gwinnett and then fell to M.L. King.
“The kids played hard,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Andy Scott said. “We’re going to be a run-oriented offense, so this gives the kids an opportunity to get some experience defending against the spread offense. I am very, very pleased with our effort.
“Obviously, when it comes to winning games, we didn’t do too well, but we’re not going to lose sleep over a 7-on-7 tournament. There were a lot of good football teams in the tournament, and it was a good experience for us.”