By Scott Lockwood, Venice Gondolier Sun
VENICE — After knocking off top-seed Armwood with some last-second heroics, Charlotte High School found itself in position to play for the championship in Thursday’s Trey Burton 7-on-7 Tournament at Venice High School.
But Mother Nature had other ideas, with a storm in the area putting a stop to the title game against Tampa Plant with a little more than 10 minutes left on the clock.
A strong performance in pool play gave Charlotte, a team that’s returning 14 starters from last year’s District 6A-11 title team, the No. 4 seed in the single-elimination tournament. It gave new quarterback Dee Hicks a chance to get familiar with some of his weapons, leading to wins over Mosley and a Jefferson team that knocked off Class 8A power Manatee in the opening round.
“He’s getting better,” Charlotte head coach Binky Waldrop said of Hicks, who was a three-year starter at cornerback. “He’s a running quarterback but he’s really doing a great job of throwing the ball. He did a great job in the last three games today, but more importantly we did a great job of catching the ball. That’s critical in these games.”
The semifinal against Armwood was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Tarpons with the ball as the final minutes ran off the clock. Hicks steadily led his team down field, and Jacob White made a catch in heavy traffic to secure the win over the tournament favorites.
“It got pretty heated against Armwood,” Waldrop said. “It’s great because you have to compete and play against great players like they have.”
As dark skies loomed on the east side of Powell-Davis Stadium, Plant scored on its opening drive. The lightning alarm sounded as the Tarpons were less than 10 yards from potentially tying the game.
“It’s too bad because I thought we were going to go in and score there and make it a game,” Waldrop said. “We played real well today and I’m very proud of our guys.”
The runner-up finish marked the end of the third 7-on-7 tournament for the Tarpons this summer. They’d previously competed at the University of Florida in Gainesville and hosted another matchup earlier this month.
They’ll host another 7-on-7 game on Tuesday at home and will be in another tournament at USF in Tampa on July 16.
“It’s a great tournament on a great day,” Waldrop said of the Venice event. “We got some good, quality games against some great competition. If you want to get better, you need to come up here and play against good people as much as you can.”