CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Clarksville High football coach Isaac Shelby stood just behind the north end zone at Hilda J. Richardson Field, watching as Hillsboro High put the finishing touches on a 26-2 championship clinching victory in the National Select 7-on-7 Mid-South Regional Thursday afternoon.
Shelby was already thinking of ways to grow the Mid-South Regional, which will be held in Clarksville for the next four years.
“We want more teams,” Shelby said. “I’d love to get all the schools in Clarksville involved and teams in Kentucky too. We want this to be a big thing here in Clarksville and in Tennessee. It’s already huge in states like Florida, Georgia and Alabama. It can be big here too.”
The Wildcats were knocked out of the double-elimination tournament Thursday, losing to Hazel Green (Ala.) in the consolation bracket. Clarksville lost to Whitehaven Team A early in the morning before stringing together wins against Brook High School (which failed to show for the tournament) and Montgomery Central.
“I thought we had a chance against Hazel Green,” Shelby said after his team lost 31-16. “They got some scores in the final three minutes of the game to beat us, but I was happy with our progress the past two days. You really get a chance to see how your skill players react to great competition. That’s what this is about.”
Hillsboro rolled past Civic Memorial (Ill.) for its second straight 7-on-7 region qualifier championship and another trip to Hoover, Ala., for the national tournament next week. The Burros finished the two-day competition without a loss, going 7-0 during pool play Wednesday and 4-0 during the tournament.
The Burros are coming off a 14-1 season last fall, losing to Knoxville West in the Class 5A state championship game. Hillsboro looked sharp n the 7-on-7, knocking off Northwest early Thursday morning before beating Whitehaven and Civic Memorial twice.
The Vikings gave Hillsboro fits early in the 30-minute competition Thursday before the Burros pulled out a 30-15 win. Northwest picked off Hillsboro twice while sophomore quarterback Hunter Silverstrim found senior Sammy Curtis for a touchdown early on.
“We get to see some of the best around and that makes you better,” Vikings’ second-year coach Vernon Wright said. “I thought we could have finished better against Hillsboro but we weren’t afraid. Right now, it’s about finding that consistency in our passing game and seeing teams like Hillsboro is going to make you better when the football season rolls around.”
The Vikings were eventually knocked out of the tournament by Mt. Juliet, by a slim 14-13 score.
Northeast and Montgomery Central also competed Thursday. The Eagles were knocked into the consolation bracket by Mt. Juliet and were eliminated by Montgomery Central. The Indians were moved into the consolation bracket after losing to Creek Wood. Central’s day ended with a loss Clarksville High, 28-7.
As the interest in 7-on-7 tournaments grows, Shelby is hoping the last two days are the tip of the iceberg.
“I think it really has a chance to catch on up here,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that goes into it but it’s also a lot of fun, and for people who are hungry for some football in early July can come out and see some very good athletes and teams. Next year, we’ll have more.”
George Robinson. Prep writer. 245-0747. firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Cville_Sports.