Jonesboro: Whitefield Academy (9 a.m.), Duluth (10 a.m.), Lassiter (11 a.m.), Creekview (noon), Shiloh (1 p.m.)
Lovejoy: Rabun County (3 p.m.), Shaw (4 p.m.), South Forsyth (5 p.m.), Kell (6 p.m.), Valdosta “B” (7 p.m.).
JONESBORO — Jonesboro and Lovejoy would like nothing more than to win the Georgia Qualifier for the National Select 7-on-7 Championship starting today at Lassiter High in Marietta.
However, coaches for both teams have other goals in mind for the two-day tournament.
Jonesboro coach Tim Floyd and his Lovejoy counterpart Edgar Carson say competing in the 30-team field is one of the bigger goals this week.
“We need, most of all, to go out there and compete with some of the top programs in the state,” Floyd said. “Secondly, we want to be more crisp on offense, and run good routes. On the defensive side we want to be able to recognize what coverage we are in.”
Among the teams competing in the tournament, which runs today through Saturday will be Alpharetta, Benjamin E. Mays, Centennial, Chattahoocee, Cherokee, Columbus, Creekview, Eastside, Grayson, Heritage, Hillgrove, Hoover, Jackson County, Jefferson, Jonesboro, Kell, Lassiter, Lovejoy, North Cobb, North Paulding, Northview, Rabun County, Shaw, Shiloh, South Cobb, South Forsyth, Valdosta (two teams), Villa Rica and Whitefield Academy.
On the first day of the tournament, all teams will participate in pool play. The second day of the tournament will consist of bracket play, which includes winner and loser brackets. The tournament will end with a championship game in which the winner qualifies for the National Championships in Hoover, Ala., next week.
Hoover is the defending Alabama state champion.
“Seven-on-seven football is fast, exciting, highly competitive, and is an outstanding way to bring summer conditioning to its conclusion,” Lassiter Touchdown Club President Bob Penter said in a statement. “Anybody that has had an opportunity to watch some of the games, has come away with a new appreciation for the amazing athletes and coaches in the region.”
Lovejoy will be in the same pool with Rabun County, Shaw, South Forsyth, Kell and Valdosta. The Wildcats will play during the afternoon session today. Jonesboro, which begins pool play this morning session with the likes of Whitefield Academy, Duluth, Lassiter, Creekview and Shiloh.
With Lovejoy playing in the evening, its first game against Rabun County at 3 p.m., standout wide receiver Preston Williams will likely get a chance to play. Williams, who is currently in Oregon at the elite The Opening scouting combine, will arrive back in Atlanta on a early morning flight.
“He wants to play,” Carson said. “That just shows the dedication he has after spending a week in Oregon, and still want to be at the tournament.”
Williams is ranked as the top receiving prospect in the state by several online recruiting services. The five-star recruit has committed to sign with Tennessee in February.
“We are looking to keep improving,” Carson said. “I thought we have done a great job before the dead week.”
Prior to observing the GHSA-mandated “dead week,” the Wildcats competed at a combine at Spalding High against the likes of state champion Creekside, state runner-up Tucker and Hiram. This camp allowed teams to use helmets and shoulder pads.
Carson said the team will return next week to Spalding for another camp similar to the last one.
“We view it as a real good opportunity for our guys,” Carson said. “Right now, the thinking is to get us prepared to get ready for the start of practice.”
Jonesboro offensive coordinator Nate Wardlaw said he is looking for the offense to be more focused this weekend. The Cardinals will be without rising sophomore receiver James Walker, who is at an AAU basketball tournament in Philadelphia this week.
However, the team returns Sabree Curtis, a junior running back/wide receiver, who missed the Cardinals’ tournament at McEachern before the break.
“We are looking at the players paying more attention to detail,” Wardlaw said. “My mindset is that we are going against some good teams that will show a lot of good defensive schemes. We didn’t do as well as we would have liked in the McEachern tournament, so I’m looking for us to be more focused.”