Victory Sports Foundation Passing & Big Man Tournament a touchdown for local schools

Sabino’s Cam Hackworth (right) and Savaughn Berryhill celebrate a touchdown (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)


Spoke to many local high school head coaches and their assistants the last two days and many of them mentioned 7-on-7 football is a necessity these days during the offseason as a form of practice and team bonding.

“It’s summertime; it’s all just reps right now,” Sabino coach Ryan McBrayer said. “Of course, 7-on-7 isn’t real football but it teaches guys how to compete and how to win, and we’re trying to win every single thing we put our guys into.

“Ultimately, it’s making sure we’re dialed in for when the pads come on and people really remember the wins and losses.”

The Victory Sports Foundation Passing & Big Man Tournament organized by Mike Dillard of Victory Fundraising at the Kino South Complex on Wednesday and Thursday gave the 7-on-7 ritual more meaning, especially this time of year.

Summer competition for high school athletes generally is with club teams.

Players in the Victory Sports Foundation event represented their schools from 1A to 5A. All of the schools were local other than Eloy Santa Cruz and Safford, but those schools often compete against teams from this area.

The event culminated with Sabino winning the passing tournament championship over Marana and Canyon del Oro taking home the title of the big-man competition.

“For us, it’s just an opportunity to compete,” said CDO coach Dustin Peace, whose team like many of the other local schools play in various 7-on-7 events, including tournaments on the campuses of Arizona and NAU this month.

“Something that we really broke down last year — I’ve got data on it with all of the close games we played. A lot of these games, when we’re playing close games in the playoffs, it comes down to game-breaking plays. How does a coach practice game-breaking plays? In practice, in spring … this (7-on-7 competition) is an opportunity to practice game-breaking plays, (such as) fourth down on the goal line.”

What better way for a quarterback to get his timing down with his receivers with more reps, especially in competition? That also goes for running backs working on their receiving skills to become more of a threat in the fall.

That’s what these passing tournaments provide.

“We gel really well,” Sabino senior quarterback Cameron Hackworth said of his efficiency with his receivers, led by Savaughn and Shamar Berryhill. “We have so many receivers and our running backs, too. I can spread the ball all over the field. As you can see today, I can spread it all over the field and win games.”

The big-men competitions are exhilarating to watch. The linemen engage in short sprints, trying to push a sled 20 yards the fastest, one-one-one blocking competitions, etc. But the most exciting portion is the tug-of-war competition, won by Desert View.

CDO — with imposing linemen such as seniors Sa’Kylee Woodard and Morgan Narcaroti — earned the overall big-man competition title.

The tug-of-war battles were intense with the participants loud and boisterous while cheering on those of other schools in competition.

Arizona will host another 7-on-7 competition on Monday night (Marana won the title of a tournament there last week) and NAU will stage the High Mountain Challenge on Saturday and June 17.


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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