Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior will be trying to lead his team to a second straight Southside Shootout 7-on-7 Tournament championship when the 16-team field begins today in Locust Grove. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
LOCUST GROVE —When Clint Satterfield got the idea to start the Southside Shootout 7-on-7 Tournament seven years ago, he did it with his gas tank in mind.
At the time, he was taking his Jonesboro High football team on treks up into the northern-most counties of the Atlanta area to participate in summer passing leagues. That was before the 7-on-7 tournaments evolved into a statewide summertime craze.
“It got real popular in Gwinnett and Cobb counties, and there wasn’t one at all on the southside,” Satterfield said. “I was tired of driving.”
On top of that, Satterfield felt like the football talent in the Southern Crescent area was becoming plentiful enough to where the south metro Atlanta teams could benefit from its own competition.
Now in its seven year, the tournament has spawned into something that has attracted the likes of perennial state powers like 2013 Class AAAA champion Griffin, and four-time region champions Lovejoy.
Today, the two-day Riddell-sponsored Southside Shootout is back at Warren Holder Park in Locust Grove, with a noon start time. Teams will play in a round-robin format today, with single elimination tournament play beginning Thursday at 3 p.m.
And Satterfield, now the football coach at Locust Grove High, couldn’t be more pleased with what his summer football brainchild has become.
“We did it, and man, it just took off,” Satterfield said. “The biggest one we’ve ever done had 24 teams in it. This year’s tournament doesn’t have that many, but it’s still got a good level of competition.”
This year’s lineup has 16 teams, including the aforementioned state champion Griffin Bears and Lovejoy. Satterfield’s Locust Grove squad will be present, along with Stockbridge and Dutchtown. And with other teams like Lithia Springs, now coached by former Lovejoy offensive coordinator Craig Chatman and Alcovy with coach Kirk Hoffman who formerly spent time at Henry County High, having familiar faces gives the tournament an added appeal.
“It’s like a family reunion of coaches,” Satterfield said. “Almost all of these guys have, at some point, spent time coaching in Henry or Clayton County.”
Last year Mundy’s Mill defeated Eagle’s Landing to win the 2013 Shootout crown. Both teams went on to have especially successful seasons, with the Tigers — along with Minnesota bound tailback Rodney Smith — advancing to the Class AAAAA quarterfinals, and Golden Eagles achieving a school-best 8-3 record before losing by a point to Mary Persons in the Class AAAA playoffs.
Satterfield said that he wasn’t surprised at the achievements of those teams, given what he saw of them during last summer’s Shootout. In fact, Satterfield said he’s been able to tell alot about a team’s regular season potential based on how they perform in the Southside Shootout. That’s thanks in part to the area’s rise in talent over the years.
“I can sum it up like this,” Satterfield said. “Back when we first started, no one wore helmets. Now we wear helmets. That’s just how competitive it has gotten. Each year, teams you see do well in 7-on-7s do well in the regular season.”
For Stockbridge quarterback Malachi Brown, the two day tournament will be a chance for the rising junior to get his feet again in live competition after a long layoff. Brown suffered a broken leg last season against Dutchtown in the Tigers’ fifth game of the season.
The Shootout will be Brown’s first major competition since coming back from injury.
“It’s going to be exciting to get out there,” Brown said. “It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait to see how far I’ve come since I’ve gotten hurt. It’s always fun to compete against other Teams to see where you are.”
Dutchtown rising senior Malik Barkley said he’s anxious to see how he and his Bulldog teammates stack up against some of the best in the area.
“This tournament is going to give me a look at seeing how I have to play against other teams,” Barkley said. “When you win in these summer leagues it gives you great confidence for the upcoming season, and shows you a peak at what you’ll be going against in the fall.”