The seventh annual Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 Flag Football Championship was a tremendous success, on and off the field.
The invitation-only tournament featured many of the top programs in the state, current Class 8A champion Tampa Plant, Miramar, the Class 8A finalist, Miami Central, Dwyer and Miami-Booker T. Washington. Acknowledged as one of the premier summer 7-on-7 tournaments in the country, the event provides a glimpse at more than 75 major college prospects.
Other teams who participated were Tampa Wharton, Miami-Carol City, Oakland Park-Northeast, Ely, McArthur, Palm Beach Central, Palm Beach Gardens, Vero Beach, Wellington, John I. Leonard and host King’s Academy.
The event was called off just before the semifinals began because of lightning and a series of thunderstorms moving through the area.
Dwyer, Miami-Booker T. Washington, Miami-Carol City and Miami Central had advanced to the semifinals.
Wellington provided one of the major upsets of the tournament, upsetting fourth-seeded Tampa Plant in the Round of 16. Tampa Plant, the reigning Class 8A champion, won the Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 tournament in 2011.
The Wolverines lost their first game to Miami-Booker T. Washington 34-8 before tying Tampa Wharton 14-14 to earn the 13th seed.
While the on-the-field exploits were electrifying, Evans was most proud of the interaction between the high school players and the NFL players attending the event.
“This is a great opportunity for some of the best high school players in the country to showcase their skills and for all of the players to become better leaders, to become men of leadership, integrity and character,” Evans said. “We had more than 600 players here, the most we’ve ever had. I’m proud to see how far this has grown.”
Evans, Miami Dolphins first-round draft pick Ryan Tannehill and Cleveland Browns veteran tight end Ben Watson spoke to the athletes during the lunch break.
Tannehill, the quarterback from Texas A&M who was the eighth overall pick, encouraged the athletes to make the right choices.
Watson, whose father was a deacon, spoke for about 15 minutes about his faith and his beliefs and how important they were in making him the man he was.
In addition to the skill players showcasing their talents, high school linemen had their own competition, making it a complete team event.
Miramar won the Chick-fil-A Linemen’s Challenge team title with 3,850 points, Booker T. Washington placed second with 3,425 points, and two-time defending champion Tampa Plant finished third with 3,400 points. The events featured a combine-style 185-pound bench press, an agility course and a head-to-head tire flip over 30 yards. The final event was the five-man sled.
Mike Miranda of Miramar won the individual bench press event for the second consecutive year, pumping 185 pounds a tournament-record 38 times. The Fastest Man Challenge, a 40-yard dash held after the lunch break, was won by Dalvin Cook of Miami Central.
That, along with the Chick-fil-A Linemen’s Challenge, helps set the Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 apart from others. The combination of events is one of the key ingredients in bringing in many of the best teams in the state, according to Evans.
“This is the best tournament we’ve had in the seven years,” Evans said. “We have the best talent, the most talent that we’ve ever had and not just in the seniors. The number of talented juniors and even sophomores is amazing.”
Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the not-for-profit Heath Evans Foundation, which is dedicated to fostering hope and healing in the lives of children and families affected by sexual abuse. It is committed to breaking the cycle of abuse through healing the psychological, physical and spiritual wounds inflicted on innocent children; to bring hope and healing to the young victims of sexual abuse.
Major sponsors included Hulett Environmental Services, United Franchise Group, Chick-fil-A, Gatorade, Cheney Brothers, King’s Academy, Wanderers Golf Club, Palm Beach County Sports Commission and Batten Construction.
For more information about the Heath Evans Foundation, visit www.heathevans.org.
Shown above are Ryan Tannehill, Heath Evans and Ben Watson.