Sixteen of South Florida’s top high school football programs participated in the eighth annual BATTLE 7-on-7 Football Challenge hosted by Tournament of Champions on Saturday afternoon at Ives Estates Park in Aventura.
Inclement weather brought the event to an abrupt, early end nearly halfway through, but that doesn’t mean nothing got accomplished.
“It’s not about sports, it’s just about keeping them off the street for eight hours,” Tournament of Champions founder Wesley Frater said, stressing that his events help foster the academic and athletic growth of local young athletes. “It’s a lot of talented teams out here like every year, but my emphasis is not about who wins the game.”
Frater added that he continues to see results.
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“Some of the coaches out here played in this event and have brought their kids back, so that means the system is working,” he said. “They’re using this experience to go on to college, get their degree, and coming back and helping.”
Teams in attendance included Booker T. Washington, Columbus, Jackson, Killian, Northwestern and Southridge, among others.
A lightning delay first halted action at about 3:45 p.m., and Frater said the event would not be rescheduled. But Jackson High defensive coordinator Luther Campbell shared Frater’s sentiment in terms of the tournament’s significance.
“This used to be the only game in town,” Campbell said. “Now you have tournaments, satellite camps and all that, but this gives the kids something to do.
“You get your kids to work against other extremely talented players. Sometimes they will get used to competing against their teammates in practice, but out here you can see the talent of other teams that you might even end up playing throughout the year.”
Coaches from Division II, III and junior college programs were in attendance at Saturday’s event, which kicked off what will be a busy few months for a majority of high school coaches and athletes.
Killian High sophomore quarterback Cairiq Rackley detailed the summer of a high school football prospect.
“My team and I were at Miami [on Friday] for camp. I’m personally leaving [Sunday] to do a bunch of camps, and then in July we do a tour of schools as team and more 7-on-7 camps,” Rackley said.