ROSWELL — Marietta’s defense and late game drives beat Kell 22-14 in the championship game and the Blue Devils defended their Corky Kell 7-on-7 tournament title Friday in Roswell.
Marietta, the No. 16 seed after going 2-2 in pool play, started the championship game with an early interception and good defense that led them to a 10-0 run in the first 5 minutes of the game.
“Defense was huge because we only had one starting receiver here today,” Marietta coach Richard Morgan said. “So we knew the defense was going to have to make some plays. We had a lot of guys playing receiver that never played it before. We relied on the defense to really make plays for us.”
Kell was the No. 14 seed after pool play, and its offense responded after Marietta’s run, scoring on back-to-back possessions to close the gap. Kell coach Brett Sloan praised his receiving corps and how it played in the championship, and throughout the tournament.
“Our young receivers played really, really well,” Sloan said “Cam Ball was outstanding, a senior leader. Jamal Hill in the slot was great, Jaylon Brown was fantastic. Those guys just played out of this world today.”
Marrietta was in control for a majority of the game but that was not the case the two prior games that got them to the championship.
Marrietta found themselves down against Colquitt County 24-17 with only seconds left on the clock. They made a big stop on defense and the offense got the ball back with 19 seconds on the clock and they took it down the field to seal the win.
The Blue Devils faced a similar situation down 17-15 to Creekside with less than 1 minute in the semifinal. A 3-point interception would ultimately end that game as time expired in the next possession.
“Coming back and making huge plays and nobody gave up, everybody stayed up and it was just next man make a play,” Morgan said. “I think that says a lot about the kids, that they are always in the game and that it is never over until we say it is over.”
Kell’s road to the championship was a little bit of less exciting as they beat Collins Hill 25-15 in the quarterfinals, and completely took control of the semifinals against Lee County, winning 24-8.
Walton’s Teagan Bierria scored a late game touchdown that brought celebration to their sidelines but the score was too late in the game to avoid losing to Colquitt County, 30-21. A misunderstanding on the official score leaves Walton’s sideline in confusion as time runs out and they face elimination.
“We are inexperienced and young,” coach Monty Bumper said. “We had to get used to the speed and physicality of the game. We did that after the first few series but we just started too slow.”