The IMG 7-on-7 Southeast Regional Championship wrapped up on Sunday afternoon with one of the best games of the weekend.
The South Florida Express Elite came out of the losers bracket to make it all the way back into the championship game. Their opponent, the Florida Fire, had already beat the Express earlier in the day 19-18, and made it to the championship without a loss on their record.
The double elimination format meant that the Express would have to beat the Fire in back-to-back games in order to win the championship. A tall task considering the Fire was riding a 19-game winning streak heading into the game.
As the saying goes, defense wins championships and the Express won a defensive battle in the first game by a score of 12-9. Tempers started to heat up during the tightly contested game and those feelings carried over into the next game.
After a 10-minute intermission, the final game to determine a champion began.
Much like the first go-around, the second game was yet another defensive battle and came down to the final possession.
The Express took the ball on offense with less than two minutes remaining on the clock and the score tied at 13. 7-on-7 rules award a team two points for a defensive stop or interception. So for the Express, it was score a touchdown or lose the game.
Led by Sean White (2014 QB, University School) the Express marched slowly down the field until they were on the five-yard line with just nine seconds left on the clock. The first pass fell incomplete out of the back of the endzone and they were left with just six seconds, one play to determine an entire weekend’s worth of games.
White snapped the ball and initially looked for Ermon Lane, why wouldn’t you look for the No. 1 receiver in the country, but he was covered in the back of the endzone.
With just a four second timer to get rid of the ball, White quickly turned to the other side of the field and found his high school teammate, Sam Bruce in the flat for the game-winning touchdown.”
“I just saw Sam Bruce, he’s a stud, beat his man to the outside, and I just threw it and put it there and he made the great catch,” White said of the game-winning pass. “[The Florida Fire] were a good team, and it was fun to go against them – they were competitive, and that’s always a fun environment to play in.”
Bruce is just a freshman in high school but he came up big in the most crucial moment of the entire weekend.
“It felt amazing man, amazing,” Bruce said of the game-winning catch. “I was just in the right place at the right time and our quarterback, Sean White, put it on the spot.”
White was the most impressive quarterback at the tournament. He currently only holds 10 scholarship offers with his biggest being from West Virginia but if he keeps playing like he did this weekend, schools will take notice.
Head coach Brett Goetz was proud of the way his team battled back and stayed focused despite having to come from the losers bracket.
“It was just great determination, and these kids wanted it – I thought they were running out of fuel a few games ago, but they took it personally, they’re competitors,” head coach Brett Goetz said of the championship win. “We’re excited to defend our Southeast Championship from last year, and we’re excited to come back her this summer and do it again.”
With the win today, the Express have earned an invite to the IMG 7-on-7 National championship in June.
They feel confident that they will be able to duplicate their result from this weekend in the national championship.
“South Florida Express is the best and we proved that today,” Said Quincy Wilson, a cornerback recruit from University school in Ft. Lauderdale. “We just did our thing and we’re going to be back at IMG in the summer and win that too.”