MAYO — There were some great athletes on the field June 18 as Lafayette High hosted three other schools for 7-on-7 football competition.
Defending Class 1A state champion Madison County took part in the workout, along with Class 5A playoff team Suwannee and a rising Hamilton County team.
Each team played three, 30-minute games and had a chance to matchup against different offensive and defensive looks. Each possession started 40 yards from the end zone.
Suwannee continuing momentum from the spring
There were a lot of positives for the Bulldogs in the 7v7 workout. Quarterback Tyree Taylor was accurate on long and short routes.
When Taylor took some plays off, Malachi Graham and Jaquez Moore filled in nicely at QB. Taylor threw three TDs total while Graham and Moore had two touchdown passes each.
At wide receiver, Graham and Moore were a step ahead of defenders. Terrell Atkinson and Wesley Jones, who will be playing varsity football for the first time in the fall, were also bright spots at receiver. Jones had touchdown catches of 35 and 18 yards while Atkinson had a 40-yard touchdown reception.
“First 7-on-7 going against somebody else — saw some good things,” said SHS coach Kyler Hall. “Looking back and comparing last year at this time, I think we’re further ahead. That’s a good sign that we’re growing.”
Hall also spoke about the benefits of live reps for his new skill position players.
“With those guys being new, it’s just repetition. You can get on the board, coach them and talk it, but you can’t beat the reps,” Hall said. “We’ll get some live looks during July.”
Moore led Suwannee defensively with two interceptions and multiple pass breakups.
Developing the secondary will be key for SHS in the summer. There is plenty of speed with Moore and many of the other wide receivers also playing cornerback and safety.
But the Bulldogs struggled against the pass in the spring game, giving up big chunks of yards to a Ridgeview team that featured a new quarterback.
Hornets hold their own
This summer, the Hornets will be focused on developing some of their new skill players like Nic’Kel Freeman, Garrison Beach and Robert Mattern.
Those receivers, along with senior quarterback Jaxson Beach and senior receiver Adam Perry, had a strong showing in 7-on-7 play.
LHS scored four touchdowns in a win against Hamilton County and reached the end zone three times in a close loss to Suwannee.
“Today was awesome because you’ve got 150 great athletes, there’s a bunch of great coaching and you get to see so much in a hurry,” Hornets coach Mark Beach said of the workout. “Guys have to adjust on the fly.
“It is 7-on-7, it’s not exactly football the way we want it, but it’s close and you can get better out here. I think everyone got better out here.”
Garrison Beach hauled in four touchdowns thrown by his brother Jaxson, including a 39-yard play against SHS. Mattern had a touchdown catch and two interceptions.
Lee emerging for Hamilton County
Catching a pair of long touchdown passes and also getting a chance to play cornerback, Alonzo Lee was impressive for Hamilton County.
HCHS coach Richard Vester liked what he saw from the rising senior and his entire team.
“Suwannee, Mayo, Madison is three of the best 7-on-7 teams, if not teams, in the area and we went toe-to-toe with all of them,” Vester said. “It was a big confidence booster to come out and compete with great competition.
“Alonzo started playing corner and did a tremendous job. He competed on both sides of the ball. (Tyler) Whetstone made some good throws and he’s not a sit-back pocket thrower.”
The Trojans also got in some 7v7 work on Friday and Saturday at the FHS 7v7 State Championship. They won 2 out of 7 games, earning victories against Palatka and Trenton in the event held at The Villages.