Bossier Parish teams took the top four spots in the inaugural Benton Tiger Charity 7-on-7 football tournament at Freedom Fields last Friday.
Airline won the 15-team double-elimination tournament, defeating Parkway 22-16 in the championship game.
The teams split two earlier games with Airline winning on a late TD in morning pool play and Parkway taking the first game in the double-elimination tournament. Haughton finished third and host Benton took fourth.
More importantly, Benton coach Reynolds Moore said approximately $1,000 in gate receipts will go toward helping former North Caddo placekicker Jhesus Vargas with medical expenses. Vargas was diagnosed with cancer in December.
“I thought it went very, very well,” Moore said. “We had a lot of positive feedback from it. Obviously being our first one we didn’t know a lot of things to expect. There are some things we’d like to change for next year going forward, but I felt like overall we had great competition, a lot of good players, a lot of good teams out there.
“I know it was hot and the double-elimination tournament in the afternoon was kind of long but ultimately everybody enjoyed it.”
Parkway rising senior quarterback Keondre Wudtee was named the Offensive MVP. Airline rising senior defensive back Xavier Johnson was named the Defensive MVP. Wudtee was the Offensive MVP on The Press-Tribune’s 2014 All-Parish team and Johnson was a first-team selection.
Airline went 8-1 in the tournament, going 4-0 in pool play and 4-1 in the double-elimination tournament.
“What I liked about it was that for the kids it reinforced what we work on every day, and it gave them an opportunity to have success against some good, quality programs,” Airline coach Bo Meeks said.
Rising senior Thomas McKain led the Vikings at quarterback. The primary receivers were Harvey Calhoun, Cameron Howell, Malik Britt and D’Juan Byrd.
“Those guys offensively really played well,” Meeks said.
The primary defenders were Johnson, Josh Smith, D’Kameron White and D’Angelo Pouncey.
7-on-7 tournaments are mostly known for offense, but it takes stops on defense to win. Teams can also score points with interceptions.
“Playing defense is tough, but that’s one thing our guys have done a good job of all summer,” Meeks said. “They’ve gotten better and better each week playing our technique and getting stops on defense. And so we’re really proud of how those guys have worked and how much they’ve improved.”
Meeks also likes the way McKain has progressed through the summer.
“We’ve had the league 7-on-7 on Tuesday and that was our third tournament so he’s been able to get a lot of reps,” Meeks said. “He’s growing in his confidence and his decision-making each time out. I was really proud of the way he played the other day.”
Moore was pleased with the way his team played coming off a disappointing performance in a 7-on-7 tournament in Arkansas.
“We’ve been kind of on the guys about effort and being aggressive and things like that and I thought they responded very well,” he said. “Kind of started off a little bit slow that morning. I thought we should have won two games we lost, but on top of that we came back and played really well in tournament play and competed.
“That’s really all I can ask of our guys right now. We’ve got a lot of young guys that are learning some spots and replacing some guys especially on defense. They competed and were very aggressive and got after it and that’s what we asked them to do. The results will take care of themselves on down the road if we continue to get better every time we go out.”
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com