With the National Select 7 on 7 championships in Hoover, Ala., now complete, we’ve come up with suitable awards that will never tarnish and will never end up in a garage sale, modestly called the Halley Awards:
Side order of victory award: Quarterback Grant Sherman led Kenton, Ohio, to a 22-5 defeat of Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.) in the championship. He earned the event’s Most Valuable Player award despite using a three-quarters sidearm throwing style that would seem unusual on any team except Kenton.
Sherman, who threw for a state-record 684 yards in one game last season, uses the same technique that two former record-setting Kenton quarterbacks, Ben Mauk, who played at Wake Forest and Cincinnati and professionally in the Canadian Football League and the Continental Indoor League and Maty Mauk, now at Missouri, used.
“He works out with both of my boys,” says Kenton coach Mike Mauk. “He was Maty’s teammate for two years and Ben has worked with him for four years, just on delivery, where to throw the ball and making quick decisions. He’s had a great summer for us and we expect great things from him this year. Everybody throws the ball a little different, but when you’re good at what you do, you don’t want to change it too much. He’s comfortable with that motion and he doesn’t have balls batted down.”
“I don’t really know how I got this throwing motion,” Sherman says. “I guess one time when I was little, I picked up the ball and I started throwing like that.”
Despite the odd delivery, Sherman’s release point is still higher than some quarterbacks because he’s 6-5. He may get even taller as his older brother Garrick is a 6-10 senior center at Notre Dame.
He has shown leadership this summer, holding nightly workouts with his receivers. It shouldn’t be surprising since his name is the combination of the two greatest Civil War generals on the Union side.
Time in a bottle award: Kenton jumped on Byrnes early and then used a short-pass possession offense that ate up the clock. Ironically, the way Kenton normally plays during the regular season is a hurry-up offense out of the spread formation, but after finishing second at the National Select 7 on 7 event two years ago, Kenton coach Mike Mauk wanted to approach this year’s event differently.
“In the regular season, we play at the fastest pace you can ever imagine,” Mauk says. “So for us, this was a completely different style of what we play in the regular season. We knew we would play seven games yesterday and didn’t know if we would play six or more games today. When we came here a couple of years ago, we used our high tempo and had a great day in pool play, but when we got to the main tournament, we were totally exhausted, so we just said we would play a little slower, take our time, get completions and move the ball down the field and do the things we do and try to play good defense.”
Too close for comfort award: Two New Orleans schools, O.P. Walker and Landry are merging this year to form Landry-Walker. On Friday, the Charging Buccaneers marched through to the Loser’s Bracket title game by winning three one-point games. That was on top of the three ties Landry-Walker played in pool play on Thursday.
Regardless of the narrow outcomes, coach Emanuel Powell said the trip was worth it as a bonding experience to bring players from the two previously separate schools together. In some cases, the team’s helmets didn’t match because some were orange and others were blue.
“It’s a six-and-a-half-hour ride,” Powell said. “That’s why we made the trip. It’s all about the bonding and coming together.”
Most touching moment: When Kenton won the championship, the Wildcats ran straight to one of their biggest fans, senior Drey Dearing. Dearing, who has muscular dystrophy and was on a wheelchair on the sidelines, has been following the team since he was five. Though he’s technically listed on the team as a player, he says he’s an unofficial coach. He recently had surgery to put two steel rods in his back to give him more stability but made sure he scheduled the surgery around the team’s 7 on 7 schedule.
Most likely to square off: Byrnes and Landry-Walker probably won’t be scheduling each other any time soon, but if they did, expect a physical game. Byrnes won both matchups, a 34-27 win in pool play and a 27-0 victory in the final of the loser’s bracket, but both times the teams played, they nearly came to blows.
Good hands award: Byrnes senior Shaedon Meadows was named the Most Valuable Receiver of the event, even though he missed the championship with a bruised hip and was bothered by the injury in his team’s final three games on Friday. “Shaedon got hurt and we missed our rhythm,” said Byrnes coach Bobby Bentley.