The 5th annual NIKE 7 on 7 Passing Championship tournament will be taking place Friday, July 13 at Long Beach Veterans Stadium. Once again, it's a loaded field with eight of the top programs in Southern California.
Teams scheduled to participate (listed alphabetically):
1. Birmingham, Van Nuys 2. Crespi, Encino 3. Edison, Huntington Beach 4. Hart, Newhall 5. Long Beach Poly 6. Mater Dei, Santa Ana 7. Mission Viejo 8. Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks
The tournament is headlined by a pair of Elite 11 signal callers as well as arguably the top junior quarterback in the nation. Dayne Crist out of Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks was one of the first two quarterbacks locked in for the Elite 11 after a strong showing at the SoCal NIKE Camp back in April. The Notre Dame bound signal caller will be joined in the backfield by Div I running back Thaddeus Brown and no one has a better collection of linebackers than the Knights headlined by Anthony McDonald, also headed to South Bend.
Edison, Huntington Beach signal caller Nick Crissman was just locked in for the prestigious camp after lighting up the field at the EA SPORTS Elite 11 workout in Las Vegas in late June. The Chargers graduated a lot of talent at the receiver position and it will be interesting to see who steps up as the new go to guy. One possibility is Crissman's younger brother, Jeff.
As good as Crist and Crissman are, there might not be a better prospect on the field than Mater Dei, Santa Ana QB Matt Barkley. Just a junior, Barkley has already been offered by schools like USC, Cal, Florida State, Tennessee, Nebraska and UCLA to name just a few. The Monarchs are far from a one man show as receiver Robbie Boyer has been uncoverable this Spring and corner Andrew Abbott can stick with just about anyone.
After winning the loaded Dana Hills/Student Sports Air Strike 07 passing tournament back in June, the Monarchs have to be considered the favorites in the NIKE event.
Speaking of juniors, Birmingham (Van Nuys) is home to the state's top receiver in the class of 2009 in De'von Flournoy. The Patriots, who won the city title a year ago, are loaded and boast a pair of talented UCLA commitments in RB Milton Knox and LB Donovan Carter.
Looking for a sleeper in this tournament? Watch out for Crespi (Encino), who won the College of the Canyons passing tournament and have several Div. I players all over the field. Fast rising QB Kevin Prince has emerged as one of the state's best, tight end Joseph Fauria is headed to Notre Dame and UCLA bound DB E.J. Woods could be the top safety in the state.
Despite an injury that will cost them all-state running back/defensive back Delano Howell, Hart, Newhall is one of those teams no one ever wants to play. QB B.R. Holbrook is the latest Indian signal caller who will sign with a Div. I school and UCLA bound LB Patrick Larimore is a beast on defense.
Barkley isn't the only junior signal caller to watch for. Mission Viejo's Allan Bridgford will be a national recruit in two years and has a very nice upside to him. Stanford bound WR Warren Reuland is out with an injury but watch for safety Alex Mascarenas to make a ton of plays on Friday. The talented junior is already one of the top defensive backs in the state.
As is always the case, no one will have more speed at this tournament than Long Beach Poly. The Jackrabbits may not have that one marquee star WR that they have had in the past (i.e.Desean jackson, Travon Patterson, Terrance Austin) but they do have some guys that can run away from you.