Parish hosts seven-on-seven event

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
St. Amant's Briggs Bourgeois makes a one-handed grab in the Gators' overtime loss to Landry Walker. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

After a busy three days, a seven-on-seven state champion was crowned at St. Amant on Friday as Warren Easton hoisted the 7v7 State Championship trophy.

West Feliciana, Landry Walker and Breaux Bridge were the other semifinalists in the event.

The Adidas 7v7 State Championship Series is put on by Airo Sports Management to crown the best seven-on-on squad in the state. There are currently 10 other states competing.

Last summer, it was the event's first time coming to Louisiana, and it was hosted by East Ascension. This time around, St. Amant hosted the East Regional--which contained 31 teams. The West Regional took place at St. Thomas More in Lafayette.

St. Amant had the most success of the three parish teams as they reached the round of 12 and came one tough overtime loss to Landry Walker away from making it to the final day of competition.

"It's been awesome. The people at Airo have been awesome," Gator head coach David Oliver said. "We had some help from local people--Veron sausage, The Jambalaya Shop, River Parish Security. It's just been a great experience for our kids. We lost in overtime. We were dropped out of the tournament, but I was extremely proud of how our kids played and competed. So, overall, I'm really happy."

In addition to St. Amant, there were two other parish teams competing. Both East Ascension and Donaldsonville were eliminated after falling short in the first eliminator round.

"It felt good to come out here and put in a little work. I know how much work Coach (Dwayne) Thomassee and St. Amant put into this thing," first-year Spartan head coach Darnell Lee said. "I think it was productive. I know we got better. It was exciting for our kids to come out and compete against somebody else."

East Ascension had a rough start in day one. In Pool C play, they finished just 1-3. Two of the three teams that beat them made it to the final day in Landry Walker and St. Augustine.

In the first elimination game on Thursday, they had another tall task ahead of them as they played St. James--a team led by an LSU commit in quarterback Lowell Narcisse.

After falling down 27-14, the Spartans came storming back and cut it to 27-26. Highlighting the comeback was Jimel London—who came away with a big interception.

However, when quarterback Cameron Gautreaux couldn't get the ball away in the required four seconds, it was ruled a sack in the end zone. The safety iced away a 29-26 victory for the Wildcats.

Despite the early elimination, Coach Lee was happy with his team's experience.

"It tests your conditioning, and you see some pretty heated competition," Lee said. "You got Lowell Narcisse on the other side throwing the ball. They have some great talent at St. James. Throughout the tournament, you're facing top-level competition."

Donaldsonville was eliminated shortly afterward when they were dealt a loss by Lake Area New Tech. The Tigers went 2-2 on the first day.

Hosting St. Amant had a rough start to the tournament as they were blown out by Lorranger, 32-13, in their first game. Although, they ended day one with three straight victories over Terrebonne, West Feliciana and Donaldsonville.

The Gators rolled past McKinley, 26-14, in the first elimination round to get within one victory of the final day of competition. They were forced to play Landry Walker--a semifinalist from last season.

After Hayden Mallory threw touchdown strikes to Larson Fontenot and Briggs Bourgeois, the Gators raced out to a 20-13 lead. When Jacob Cheatwood caught a touchdown pass late to make it 26-19, it looked like St. Amant was on their way to a big win.

Though, Landry Walker quickly scored to tie the game. Bourgeois responded with a catch at the Buccaneer 10-yard line, but the Gators ran out of time.

In overtime, Landry Walker began things with a touchdown to make it 33-26. St. Amant answered with a score, but they went for the win. Their two-point try failed--resulting in a 33-32 defeat and exit from the tournament.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, Coach Oliver said that he was very pleased with the performance of his team over the two days.

"It's nice to have an escape from the every-day monotony of workouts with your own team," Oliver said. "You get a chance to compete against somebody else, and some of the best of the best are out here, so you find out a lot about your football team.

"It's not an actual football game because there's no kicking and no linemen, but it gives you a chance to compete against other people, and I like the way our team competed."