Thunder Fare Well in First Old Rugged Cross 7-on-7 Tourney
Sun. July 29, 2012 at 3:29 a.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
By JUSTIN KLINE | LEDGER CORRESPONDENT
LAKELAND | After a long, hot day of 7-on-7 football, the Lake Region Thunder will enter next week's football camp with confidence.
The Thunder cruised through the brackets in the first-ever Old Rugged Cross 7-on-7 tournament but lost the championship game to the Strawberry Crest Chargers, 28-24.
Despite the loss, head coach Steve Reynolds and his team was pleased with the way things played out.
"We had an outstanding day," Reynolds said. "Playing in this heat, you've got to be in shape. And now we know our guys are in shape for this season."
The Thunder know that competition in the district will be fierce, and Reynolds wants to make sure that his players are ready to compete. He said the tournament was a good way for the coaching staff to take a look at the players and get a better understanding of how ready they are to perform against other schools.
"We have to be prepared," Reynolds said. "There's nobody weak in our district. We've got to bring it."
Senior quarterback L.T. Thompson led the Thunder to four straight wins, and threw three touchdowns and two picks in the loss to Strawberry Crest.
Thompson and his teammates also played some defense throughout the tournament, but Reynolds doesn't plan to try that during the regular season. The goal is to get Thompson ready to run a spread-option offense, and Reynolds liked what he saw on Saturday.
The tournament, which was organized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was held at Lakeland Christian School and featured 15 teams, of which 12 hailed from Polk County. Former NFL running back Sammie Smith was on hand to speak to the players and the crowd after the championship game.
According to tournament organizer Mark Wilson, it was a successful day.
"A lot of teams were calling us up to get a spot in the tournament, but we only had room for 15," Wilson said. "We had to turn a lot of teams down."
Wilson and the FCA are hoping to capitalize on the growing popularity of 7-on-7 football, and he thinks Saturday's outing could help turn the Old Rugged Cross Tournament into an annual one.
"We want to make coaches and players better on and off the field, because they won't be football players forever," he said.