E.A. Sports Today

National qualifiers

Newly minted D1 Elite qualifies for national 7-on-7 tournament, heading for Florida in June

By East Alabama Sports Today

The team has been together for only about six weeks but already D1 Elite 7v7 has a prestigious feather in its cap.

The program’s 18U team qualified for the 7-on-7 national championship tournament this summer with a Final Four finish in the East Regional in Myrtle Beach over the weekend. The main event is June 11-13 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

The team is comprised of local high schools players who only tried out on Jan. 9. It went 1-2 in tournament pool play against teams from New Jersey, Illinois and North Carolina, but won four straight games Sunday before losing 19-16 to eventual champion NLG-3 (Next Level Greats) of Voorhees, N.J., in the Club Division semifinals.

“This is special for the kids in the area,” program director Antwon Fegans said. “We went down there with a team full of nobodys – no names, no (recruiting service) stars – and all the other teams had big-time players.

“We were like a no-name team; that’s what they thought. Everybody else has got 10 or 12 Trequons (Fegans). We’ve just got guys who are hungry and ready to play football and compete on the highest level, no matter what you’re ranked or how many stars you have.

“Our team, we don’t care if you’ve got stars. We want just you to play football. We’re just giving kids a chance. We’re going to give you a chance.”

The team is coached by Scott Mims, Tre Elston, Brad Heard, Adam Mims and Fegans. It rode the hot hand of dual threat Gadsden City freshman quarterback Luke Waldrop into the Final Four.

Among the other players on the team are Alexandria’s Javais McGhee and Piedmont’s Jack Hayes and Austin Estes, all of whom had to miss the trip for other commitments. McGhee started for the Valley Cubs’ basketball team that played for the 5A Northeast Regional title Monday.

Fegans expects other teams from the organization to qualify in their age groups during the season. Now, that they’re in, they have to raise approximately $15,000 to get there.

The program will be holding various fundraisers throughout the spring. Donations are being accepted at one of two CashApp accounts – $D17v7 or fegans8.

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