ESPN's Rise Games Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 tournament turned out to be a microcosm of the last three college football seasons.
The ones that ended with national championships for the Southeastern Conference.
A pair of Miami standouts, Central High quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey and Miramar wide receiver Ivan McCartney III, hooked up on a short slant rout for a Southeast squad touchdown on the tournament's final play for a 12-6 defeat of the West squad in the itle game.
"We're going to Disney World!" the Southeast shouted in unison afterward.
No need, boys.
They were already there.
"These kids from the Southeast -- especially these Florida kids -- they're taught to defend their house," Southeast Coach Lamar Thomas said after the game at Disney's Wide World of Sports. "Everyone of these players has a lot of pride, but there's something about the Florida kids and the way they compete. They refuse to be defeated."
This bunch, after whipping the West 32-0 earlier in the day, had to bounce back from a 30-22 loss to the Midwest squad by beating the Southwest 26-20 to secure a spot in the final, and a rematch with a squad loaded with a dozen Californians, including Arizona State-bound quarterback Peter Thomas of Valhalla.
The game was a 6-6 stalemate most of the way before Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer tight end Gerald Christian, the tournament's offensive MVP, skied for a deep ball over the middle with less than a minute to play. The play of the drive helped the Southeast get the ball inside the 5-yard line, where Godfrey drilled a pass into McCartney's gut after the clock had expired for the win.
"A lot of people say California has the best athletes, so we wanted to come in show them it's Florida, really, with the best," said McCartney, a.k.a. "Sticks," who planned on texting cousin Chad Ocho Cinco [Johnson] with the game results. "I'll tell him we had a big win today, that I had a big catch and that it runs in the blood."
Apparently, it flows in the region, too.
"We have great players down here," Godfrey said. "We came together at practice -- 'One team, one level, one family,' that was our slogan -- and we came out here and played ball."Copyright © 2015, CT Now