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Drew, Jonesboro advance to NFL HSPD regional tournament

Drew coach Dorwyn Lyles says his team success at last week’s NFL HSPD Camp and Tournament was a carryover from the team’s spring practice. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Drew coach Dorwyn Lyles says his team success at last week’s NFL HSPD Camp and Tournament was a carryover from the team’s spring practice. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

HAMPTON — The players and coaches from Drew and Jonesboro are excited about advancing in the NFL High School Player Development Tournament, but they are also keeping it in perspective.

As they prepare for the regional round on June 26 at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta, they realize that they can’t become overly confident about their success.

“It is not like its 11-on-11 with all the other elements of the game involved,” first-year Drew coach Dorwyn Lyles said. “We are happy with advancing, but we know their is much more to the game. I’m definitely happy about the progress of my team.”

Drew advanced as the winner with a 4-0 record at the two-day camp and tournament held at Twelve Oaks Stadium. Jonesboro was 3-1 with its only loss to Drew.

Now, the two teams will face competition from the other tournaments around the metro area with the winner advancing to Indianapolis later this summer to face other state winners. Last season, Lovejoy advanced to the national competition in Ohio.

“It is a good experience with a lot of exposure for your players,” Jonesboro coach Tim Floyd said. “We definitely like for them to compete during the summer. We are not getting overly excited about this because we know the real games start in August. This is some good preparation for our team.”

Lyles took over the Drew football program just before the start of the 10-day spring practice period last month when Jarrett Laws left for a similar position at Griffin, the Class AAAA champions.

Lyles had been the team’s defensive coordinator since the program started in 2009.

To get ready for the regional competition, Drew will play in the Southside Shootout 7-on-7 Tournament today and Thursday in Locust Grove.

“We are hoping that our guys stay hungry, and ready to compete,” Lyles said. “This sets a good tone for our summer workouts. However, we know this is the summer, and you can’t win a state championship out here.”

Jonesboro will compete in the North Gwinnett High Qualifying the next couple of days with the top two teams advancing to Hoover, Ala., on July 18-19.

Cardinals offensive coordinator Nate Wardlaw said the team played better at the NFL HSPD tournament than last month’s Cam Newton tournament at Westlake. Wardlaw said the biggest difference was the team’s concentration level last week.

“We were better focused at crucial times in this tournament,” Wardlaw said. “We didn’t look down on the competition. I liked our entire approach at this tournament.”