ATLANTA, Ga. – If an inspirational, underdog movie is ever spawned by 7-on-7 football, Richland High School of North Richland Hills, Texas, just wrote the plot.
After a 5-5 season last fall and a 1-3 showing in Wednesday’s preliminary round at the adidas 7-on-7 National Championship event at Silverback Stadium, head coach Gene Weir’s Rebels emerged victorious, outlasting a field of nearly 200 teams.
“We are so proud to represent Texas here at the adidas 7-on-7 and are honored to finish as the National Champion,” Richland wide receiver Phillip Anderson said. “We struggled in the first round but we didn't get down on ourselves. We re-focused and turned things around when it counted. Our success here at the 7-on-7 will transition into a great season.”
Anderson earned MVP honors after hauling in five touchdowns Thursday in three, single-elimination tournament games. Richland opened the day with a 21-14 win over Crenshaw of Los Angeles, Calif. The Rebels followed by cruising by Sacred Heart-Griffin (Ill.), 32-6, and Jupiter Christian (Fla.), 32-0, in the championship contest.
“After a rough start our team rallied together and played exceptionally well. Our defense really stood out and our quarterback was on point,” Weir said.
Concord (Ill.), Farragut Academy (Tenn.), and Mesquite (Texas) rounded out the seven-team championship field.
Each team qualified for the National Championship through one of five adidas 7on7 regional tournaments: Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles - June 14-15), University of Notre Dame (South Bend, Ind. - June 20-21), University of Central Florida (Orlando - June 28-29), Texas A&M (College Station - July 10-12), and University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn. - July 18-19).
The Rebels will see if summer success translates into regular season victories when they open the 2008 season against Granbury Aug. 29.