Nike 7 on 7 passing championships

For the second week in a row, Mission Viejo had to go through Hart and Mater Dei to win a passing tournament and did just that winning the first ever Nike 7 on 7 Championship, produced by Student Sports. The event brought together eight of the top passing teams in Southern CA and took place at Long Beach City College.

A week ago at the Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison tournament, Mater Dei rolled through first Mater Dei and then Hart to easily win the tournament. Today was a different story as both Hart and Mater Dei brought their A game and gave the Diablos all they could handle.

Mater Dei rolled to the finals first beating Los Angeles (Calif.) Venice 31-6 in the 1st round and then gave Canyon Country their first passing tournament loss all summer in the semi-finals 33-20.

Mission Viejo defeated Culver City in the 1st round 21-6 and then beat Hart 28-27 in one of the best games of the tournament. Hart was actually involved in two barn burners as they got by South Hills 48-40 in double overtime in the 1st round. SH scored on the last play of regulation to tie the score but Hart knocked down a SH extra point attempt to prevent the loss.

In overtime, all teams are required to go for two points after scoring a touchdown (one point conversion is from three yards out, two points from eight yards out). Both teams scored and got the two-point conversion on their opening possession. In double overtime, Hart scored again and also converted the two point conversion. On South Hills next possession, Hart intercepted a deflected pass to seal the win. Hart QB Sean Norton had a great game and a great tournament and has one of the most live arms of any 5-10 QB we've ever seen. He throws with great accuracy and puts the ball right where it needs to be. For the second week in a row, he made a believer out of us and showed he has the ability to play somewhere at the Div I level.

In the first semi-final, Mater Dei never trailed as QB Jason Forcier carved up Canyon's defense all game long. The rising junior has a chance to be a very special player in a few years and looks like one of the top QB prospects in the class of 2005. For Canyon, EA SPORTS Elite 11 QB Nate Longshore had a fine tournament and made some incredible throws but the Monarchs made it tough on him blanketing his receivers most of the game.

In the other semi-final, Hart led Mission Viejo throughout and moved the ball very effectively. Again, Norton was on the mark and it was almost a shock to see him throw an incomplete pass. The Indians led by two touchdowns late in the game but Diablo QB Mark Sanchez led the comeback. Sanchez throws as pretty a ball as you'll see and has the arm strength of a college QB right now. Mission scored two quick touchdowns and down by one point with just a few minutes left in the game decided to go for two points and the win and converted. A Norton pass was intercepted on their final drive to set up the grudge match between MV and MD, two teams that really don't care a whole lot for each other.

MD came out fast scoring on their opening possession. Mission came right back and answered and then scored two more late touchdowns in the half to take a 20-6 lead at the break. The Monarchs came out fired up after halftime shutting down MV on defense and then scoring a touchdown of their own to cut the lead to 20-14. With just three and half minutes left to go, MD scored again to tie the game and had all the momentum on their side.

It didn't last long as Sanchez hit stud athlete Marty Tadman on a great throw and catch for a score and after converting for two, Mission led 28-20, which proved to be the final scoring of the game.

Like he was at Edison last weekend, Tadman had an incredible tournament earning tourney MVP honors. Offensively and defensively, Tadman does so much to help a team win and made big plays all tournament long. He's just a great high school football player and should make an excellent college one as well.

It was a special treat seeing so many talented QBs competing on one day. Longshore, Norton, Sanchez and Forcier all looked very good and showed why their teams should all be able to compete for a CIF Championship next year.

Other players who stood out:

* Venice WR Ryan Graves is the real deal and was one of the top pass catchers of the day. He's not a burner, but has good size at about 6-1, 175 pounds, great hands, runs very polished routes and made some super acrobatic catches.

* Culver City WR Michael Bumpus also came in with a lot of hype and lived up to it. Like Graves, Bumpus doesn't have blazing speed but has very good game speed and got it done on both sides of the ball. One of the best matchups of the day was when South Hills played Culver City in a losers bracket match and the Payton twins, Bryan and Jeremy took turns covering Bumpus.

The twins were talking some serious smack but it didn't affect Bumpus as he made some very nice catches on both athletes.

* South Hills DBs Bryan and Jeremy Payton are two of the most gifted athletes in the West region. Both have great size at 6-1 and about 185 pounds. They can run, catch, play very physical and are always around the ball. Their one on one matchup with Bumpus was one of the best of the tournament and we would have to say it was a draw as all three took turns making some nice plays on each other.

*Culver City WR Jaison Williams definitely passes the eye ball test and at 6-4, 190 pounds is a huge target. Williams made some nice catches and showed better hands than we saw at the SoCal Nike Camp.

* Carlsbad TE Vic So'oto showed why head coach Bob McAllister called him the best sophomore the program has ever had. Ther rising junior is about 6-5, 210 pounds, catches everything and can really run. He should be one of the top TE prospects at least on the West Coast next year if not nationally.

*As good as Hart QB Sean Norton was, he still has to have someone to throw the ball to and that was Kevin Ciccone who was basically uncoverable all tournament long. Ciccone might have led the tournament in touchdowns and was able to get deep at will.

A special thanks to all the players and coaches who handled themselves very well and showed class throughout. The tournament went without incident and it will be exciting to track how all eight teams do on the field next season. Top Stories