After stops in Livermore, Fontana, and Elk Grove, Passing Down concludes in 7v7 California tour Sunday in the O.C. at the Best of the West Finals. The Golden State's top teams from Northern California, Central California, and Southern California will converge at Fullerton College.
North vs. South is the theme as six teams from north of the Grapevine will see if they have what it takes against the six teams from talent rich Southern California. Diverse Sports (Stockton), ASAP (Elk Grove), EBAL Elite (Pleasanton), TMP Elite Stars (East Bay), Sac Attack (Sacramento), and Bakersfield Elite (Bakersfield) qualified for the Best of the West while competing in the Northern California and Central Regionals.
Diverse Sports won the NorCal regional defeating 2012 Best of the West champion Pro Sport. The young squad has talent but they didn't come alive until the playoffs after losing two pool play games in Livermore. Sporadic play in Fullerton can mean an early exit in the double-elimination BOTW tournament. EBAL Elite has a talented quarterback in 2015 prospect Kyle Kearns, which goes a long way in a 7v7 setting. ASAP is a wildcard. They didn't play to their potential in Livermore despite having the most talent in the NorCal Regional.
Bakersfield has sent a team to the Best of the Championship game in each of the previous years, including 2011 BOTW champion Bakersfield Burr led by current Penn State quarterback Tyler Ferguson. Last year, Evan Moore led SavvOut to the championship. This year he leads a more talented Bakersfield Elite team that finished in the top four in Elk Grove. However, Bakersfield did get a taste of SoCal as an overmatched Team SavvOut finished 0-4 in Fontana.
TMP Elite Stars and their Four Horsemen of Joe Mixon, Adarius Pickett, Michael Lazarus, and D.J. Calhoun is arguably the most talented team heading into Fullerton. However, their lack of speed could hurt them in matchups against SoCal teams. TMP looks the part. They are big and physical. Opposing teams in Elk Grove often referred them to looking like "college" kids. Their pool play matchup with Fontana runner-up GameChangersLA is highly anticipated on Sunday.
B2G versus Body by Tra was the top game in Fontana coming down to a "controversial" final minute finish. Well at least B2G felt it was "controversial" as Body by Tra advanced to the SoCal championship game and B2G was sent home. After winning their own 7v7 tournament two weeks ago in Fullerton, B2G has to back it up in a tournament they are not hosting. And a rematch with Body by Tra in playoffs would be highly anticipated.
Will someone beat Body by Tra in Fullerton? The talented squad went unbeaten in the talent rich SoCal Regional and along with TMP Elite Stars are the only two teams that didn't lose a game in a Passing Down tournament in 2013. 2015 quarterback Tyler Hilinski was nearly flawless for BBT and must have a repeat performance to keep them unscathed in Fullerton.
Frat Boyz has something to prove after being upset in the quarterfinals in the SoCal Regional by GameChangersLA. A pick-six in the final minute kept them out of the challenging for the SoCal championship. They get a nod to the Best of the West after NorCal runner-up Pro Sport had to pull out of the tournament. And Frat Boyz is coming loaded with half of their 24-team roster sporting D1 offers.
Ground Zero looks to rebound from a disappointing showing in SoCal. The Inland Empire based squad split into two teams in Fontana and one (Just Play) snuck into the semifinals. With one loaded team this time around, Ground Zero could make some noise in Fullerton.
FCA gets final spot in Best of the West after CenCal runner-up Team Grizzlies elected not to make the trip to Fullerton. Despite not making the quarterfinals, FCA Chosen – one of two FCA teams in Fontana – had a solid pool play record in Fontana to earn an alternate invitation. Like Ground Zero, FCA will combine both teams making them a very deep team that could surprise on Sunday.
Best of the West kicks off Sunday at 10 a.m. with pool play matchups followed by a double-elimination tournament starting at 11:35 a.m. The championship game will begin at 5 p.m.