The NWLA Charity Invitational 7-on-7 tournament hosted by Benton is back.
The tournament, which wasn’t held last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is Friday and Saturday at Freedom Fields.
Twenty-three teams are competing in the varsity division, making it the largest tournament to date. The field includes five parish teams — Airline, Benton, Haughton, Parkway and Plain Dealing.
The other teams are Dunham, St. Amant, North Caddo, Logansport, Loyola, Northwood, Menard, Calvary Baptist, Captain Shreve, West Monroe, North DeSoto, Huntington, Pineville, Cornerstone Christian (Texas), Red River, Green Oaks, Evangel Christian and Woodlawn.
The format is pool play on Friday beginning at 12:30 p.m. followed by a double-elimination bracket tournament Saturday starting at 8 a.m. The varsity championship round starts at noon. If a second game is needed, it will begin at 1:45.
Benton head coach Reynolds Moore started the tournament in 2015 for a couple of reasons. One, 7-on-7 tournaments, which emphasize the passing game, help teams prepare for the fall season. Two, he wanted a way to raise money for worthy causes in the community.
This year, all gate proceeds will go to two students and a Benton teacher battling cancer.
Admission is $5 Friday. Donations will be accepted Saturday.
There are a couple of new wrinkles this year.
For the first time, there will be a junior varsity division. The field is comprised of Benton, Parkway, Airline, Captain Shreve, Calvary Baptist and West Monroe. The championship game is at 10:55 a.m. Saturday.
There will also be a Gunslinger Quarterback Competition sponsored by Brewer Physical Therapy, which is also the event’s main sponsor.
Quarterbacks will compete in four areas to determine a winner. It will take place Friday at approximately 5:15 p.m. after the conclusion of pool play.
Thirty-two quarterbacks have signed up to compete.
As of mid-March, quarterbacks from parish schools entered include Benton’s Gray Walters, Jeffrey King and Lannon Collum; Haughton’s Colin Rains; Parkway’s Cannon Link, Eli Harper and Gavin Carrington; and Plain Dealing’s Braeden Sterling.
Rains, a rising junior, was the co-Offensive MVP on the All-Parish team last season. Link, a rising senior, and Walters, a rising junior, were starters. Sterling, a rising senior, started before suffering an injury.
Others entrants include Calvary Baptist’s Landry Lyddy, Bryce Carpenter and Abram Wardell, Northwood’s Mason Welch, Hutson Hearron and Kenton Brosett, West Monroe’s Micah Bell, Hayden Frederico, Lytton Arledge and Garrett Frye, Logansport’s Kameron Boykin, Loyola’s Cooper Defatta, North DeSoto’s Kelvin Kennedy, Huntington’s Cam Evans and Captain Shreve’s Kenyon Terrell.
Lyddy, a Louisiana Tech commitment, led Calvary to the Division IV state championship last season.
7-on-7 tournaments are played on short fields. Players wear t-shirts, shorts and helmets. Tackles are generally by touch. Teams score points with touchdowns, conversions following touchdowns and interceptions.