MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

July 14, 2014

Passing fancy: FTG captures title in 7-on-7 tournament

It isn't December. There’s no tackling, not even any pads, except for helmets.

But Fort Gibson was running on all cylinders in a 10-team 7-on-7 football tournament held Monday at Hilldale High School. The Tigers went 3-1 in pool play then won three more games in bracket play, culminating with a 29-28 win over McAlester in the championship game.

J.R. Singleton connected with Jordan London on a 3-yard TD pass, then connected with Chris Walker on a conversion pass for the win. With an opportunity at one last play, a batted down McAlester pass sealed the outcome.

Singleton and London connected for three scores in the game, including a 25-yard grab on a fade on the final play of the first half. The combo also helped to set up a McKenna Terrell TD reception in the first half when London made a one-hand grab before going out of bounds inside the 10.

Singleton spread it around enough. He hooked up with Hayden Perry at the 3 on a 20-yard grab to set up London's final TD, which came after McAlester had rallied from a 21-14 deficit to go up 28-21 with 1:25 to play.

“We’ve got a great receiver corps. Guys are working hard, competing. That’s what we want to see and a lot of guys stepped up in key situations,” Singleton said.

The win also atoned for the Tigers' only loss, an 18-14 loss in pool play to the Buffaloes, which lost to current Muskogee head coach Rafe Watkins and Guthrie in last year's Class 5A championship game. The Roughers open the regular season at McAlester.

“We’re not winning championships in July, but the big thing was the cards were stacked against us and we went down and scored,” said Fort Gibson coach James Singleton, the father of the quarterback. “They had an idea we were going for Jordan and had him covered up. And Chris, who has caught maybe four or five balls coming out of the backfield, makes a big catch.”

In seven-on-seven, the offense includes all but the linemen on both sides of the football. Drives are started from 40 yards out. Seven points are awarded for touchdowns. Conversions are worth two if you choose to go for it, otherwise it’s an automatic seven points. Interceptions by the defense are worth two points.

Fort Gibson beat Pryor 30-21 in one semifinal. London had three TD receptions and Keifer Kirkhart another, all from Singleton.  Tristan Johnson had an interception.

Hilldale, led by freshman backup quarterback Jaron Nail, reached the semifinals by going 2-2 in pool play and beating Wagoner 25-7 in bracket play before losing to McAlester 34-21 in the other semifinal. Michael Breckon, Matt Bargsten and Hunter Woods all caught TD passes from Nail, who against Wagoner threw TD passes to Devin Cochran, Bargsten and Grant Sikes. Woods and Cole Kiser both had interceptions for points.

Hornets coach Chad Kirkhart was happy with his young squad’s performance, starting with his quarterback. The expected starter, Mitchell Croftcheck, was out of town.

“Jaron got a bunch of work, which was good for him. He got a lot of different looks and competed —that was the main thing,” Kirkhart said. “Overall we were pretty good most of the day. Our worst game was Pryor (a 23-7 loss in pool play). We’re young and learning, but we got better.”

Wagoner had a tough day, going 2-2 in pool play then losing to the Hornets. The Bulldogs also lost to Fort Gibson 28-0, a team they beat in the first round of the 4A playoffs a year ago. The Bulldogs’ lone wins came against Verdigris (16-9) and  Sallisaw Central (30-14). Coach Dale Condict didn't seem concerned.

“These things are necessary because you got to do some of it because you’ve got to defend in the secondary, you’ve got to run pass concepts and you’ve got to do things to evaluate players. But in on way do we think it reflects on where we think our team is headed,” Condict said.

Haskell, the other local team in the tournament, went 2-2, beating Wilburton and Fort Gibson's B-team while losing to Hilldale and Pryor.

“I felt like we competed well against some bigger schools. We just eventually wore down,” said Haskell assistant Kyle Ward. Head coach Greg Wilson was out of town.

Pryor — coached by former Muskogee Rougher Jason Freeman — and McAlester won the pools and were seeded 1-2 going into bracket play.

Complete results:

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