8 Standouts from the 2017 Northeast New England 7-on-7 Championships
By Nate Weitzer for Mass Prep Stars
PEABODY, Mass. – The high school football season is less than a month away, but several contending teams from Massachussetts, New Hampshire and Maine got to strut their stuff in the annual UnderArmour New England 7-on-7 Championships at Bishop Fenwick last Thursday evening.
After 10 games of pool play and a couple of thrilling semifinals, two MIAA schools, Middleboro and Dennis-Yarmouth, faced off for the second time during the tournament, as D-Y edged Middleboro 20-14 to make the final four.
Undeterred by their status as underdogs, the Dolphins forced a turnover on downs with under four minutes to go, setting up a game-winning touchdown from quarterback Jacob McCarthy to Robb Evans as time expired, sealing a 14-13 Championship win for Dennis-Yarmouth.
“We were a wildcard,” Evans said of his Dolphins, who qualified for the tournament due to Bishop Feehan declining their invitation. “Everyone thought we weren’t going to come out and compete but we wanted it more. We came out with a lot of intensity and showed what we could do.”
Stars Who Shined
Daryan Thompson ‘19 ATH/SB/WR/S – The speedy junior presented problems for defenses all day. In a crucial test against Middleboro to conclude pool play, Thompson ran an ankle-breaking route to get wide open for the game-winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining.
He also came up with a crucial interception In a semifinals matchup against Bonny Eagle and added a score in the final.
Robb Evans ‘18 WR – Complementing Thompson and mentoring the younger receiver all afternoon, Evans stood out on offense and defense to help the Dolphins reach the final four.
On the final play of the tournament, he ran a Whip Route to beat man-to-man coverage and earn unofficial MVP honors.
“The kids didn’t feel any pressure,” said Andrew Jamiel, the son of a D-Y coach and fill-in offensive coordinator during the tournament. “They were just coming in and playing football. We were running slants all game, so I told Rob to sell the slant and fade out, and he was clutch.”
Evan Gwozdz ‘18 QB – The Sachems baseball star continued his storied multi-sport career with an excellent performance in the 7-on-7 tournament. He went through his progressions and kept Middleboro’s offense moving, coming up clutch once again for the South champions by winning a double-overtime shootout with Winnacunnet (NH) to begin the day.
“I love that feeling,” Gwozdz said about playing close games. “Learning to work under pressure in close games helps you prepare for the regular season and it’s good to learn how to focus in those situations.”
Jay Symonds ‘18 TE – Symonds was there every time quarterback Ryan Eamer needed a target. The Pittsburgh commit was dominant in the red zone throughout the evening, as he caught a touchdown and an extra point to put BB&N up late in a semifinal matchup against Middleboro. When Mass Prep Stars releases their player rankings next week, you can be sure Symonds will be prominently featured among the top players in the rich Class of 2018.
Tom Landry ‘18 QB – Filling the ample shoes of graduated QB Zack Burns, Laundry played the position with aplomb in this tournament. Whether rolling out to his right or left, the southpaw hit his receivers in stride to keep Billerica in close competition during several shootouts.
Ruben Gonzalez ‘18 WR – The Knights’ backs were against the wall in a pool play matchup against BB&N, but they rallied back behind a pair of Pick Sixes from Gonzalez and teammate Alex Sjoquist ’18. After a BB&N touchdown tied the game at 22-22, Gonzalez caught a bomb from quarterback John Medina to win it with just ten seconds left on the clock.
“It happened pretty fast. We ran on offense and coached called a vert. I was open in the middle the whole game and in the end I caught a big one.”
Ajahn Rue ‘20 WR – Working opposite Gonzalez for most of the tournament, Rue made some spectacular grabs in traffic while demonstrating his athleticism. Afterwards, he expressed his excitement to play alongside Gonzalez this season.
“We’re very hopeful,” Rue said. “We’re hoping for the best and we have a lot of hard work to do, but as of right now, we feel like we are the best.”
Isaiah Cashwell-Doe ‘18 RB – After the Tanners managed to ground Dennis-Yarmouth’s prolific aerial attack, Cashwell-Doe ran a beautiful pattern to get open for a long touchdown that proved to be the game-winner in a pool play matchup. Junior Tyler Parrish would follow with a catch of the two-point conversion in traffic, to seal the victory. It is going to be exciting to see what the Bishop Fenwick transfer can bring to Middlesex League competition this season.
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