GATLINBURG, Tenn. — The CBA Elite opened their 2019 7-on-7 season on March 2 at the Rocky Top Classic in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and it was humbling experience for the program as all teams except one, struggled to perform and come up with victories.
It might have been a long day and a day that many wasn’t expecting, but it was a teaching moment for all and an opportunity for the players to know what went wrong and fix it.
Black Squad Steals The Day
A team mixed with seniors-to-be and underclassmen went into the Rocky Top Classic with a certain mindset and almost executed their plan to perfection. The Black Squad had themselves a great day on the field finishing the day at 5-1 and making it all the way to quarterfinals of bracket play.
Led at quarterback by 2021 Ravenwood signal caller Trevor Andrews, the Black Squad showed great team play on both sides of the ball and was competitive throughout their path. They showed good team offense moving the ball efficiently and taking what the defense was giving them.
While the offense played well, I thought it was the Black Squad defense that held things together and really made a statement on the day. Their defense was active and played as a cohesive unit. They never backed down from the competition and held their own against some of the best skill players in the country.
The secondary in particular had strong showings, including Hillsboro safety Avont Burrus who came away with two interceptions on the day and was consistently around the ball. His high school teammate, 2021 safety Onterrio Crowell had a strong day as well. He was active in his play and showed great signs of leadership.
Several prospects on offense had good days as well. Tullahoma athlete Hunter Jewell, 2021 Davidson Academy tight end Hunter Cruse, Clarksville athlete Quantae Hicks and Whites Creek athlete Yion German all had big catches on the day and played with great energy.
It was a great opening performance for the Black Squad that set the tone for not only themselves but also for the remainder of the CBA teams going forward.
Struggles Galore for Gold Squad
It wasn’t a banner day for CBA’s Gold Squad as they struggled to put together a full game and never really got on the same page as a team.
Their opening game against Team Dime from Los Angeles gave them an opportunity to show what they had from the jump versus strong competition and while they didn’t back down and actually had a shot at winning, they couldn’t muster together positive plays enough to come out on top.
That inconsistency continued throughout the day as the Gold Squad finished their Rocky Top experience at 0-4 and was put out in the 1st round of bracket play.
While as a team the results weren’t there, we did see several individual performances that warrant notification. Oakland linebacker Aaron Moore was active throughout the day and played with great passion. Ensworth tight end Austin Henderson was a top playmaker for the Gold Squad offense before going down with an injury. He is expected to be ok and back to full health very soon.
Hillsboro running back Brian Covington displayed his skill set catching passes close to the line and down field. Expect more from the Burros speedster throughout the 7 on 7 season. While didn’t produce catches in numbers, 2021 Ravenwood tight end Jake Briningstool came up clutch several times with big grabs and drive saving catches.
Hints of good play was seen throughout the day but overall, it wasn’t a good day for the Gold Squad. It is however a good opportunity to learn from and move on as Gold has several more chances ahead to show how talented and dominate they can be.
Potential Shows But Slow Day For Green Team
The Green Squad opened the day for CBA at the Rocky Top Classic and started off well in the opening minutes of game one, but quickly lost their groove in a loss and saw that to be the result the rest of the day. It was an 0-4 day for the Green Squad, but they had moments of good play and showed the potential to get better.
Much like it was for the Gold team, the Green Squad struggled with chemistry on both sides of the ball and never showed enough consistency throughout to remain competitive enough for victories.
The biggest thing that the Green Squad can build on after last weekend’s performance was their energy they played with during all four games, giving their all and working hard towards a win. While the victories wasn’t there, the team did improve as the day went on.
Players like 2021 MBA (QB) David DeRocher, 2021 Ravenwood (WR) Ross Johnston, Wilson Central (Ath) C.J. Morrow, 2021 Oakland (LB) Cassius Thorpe and 2021 Hillsboro (CB) Jaelyn Patterson all showed out in different ways through the day and gave the Green Squad signs of possible leadership and playmaking going forward.
Offense Lacking For CBA Steel in Gatlinburg
The story on the day wasn’t much different for the Steel Squad as they had their troubles and inconsistencies on both sides of the ball and never really could put it together to put out a win.
It was an 0-4 day for Steel where much of their struggles came on offense. The fire power on offense wasn’t there as they had trouble pushing the ball down field or simply completing passes. The quarterbacks didn’t have their best but they are young.
2022 Brentwood (QB) Davis White and 2021 (Ath) Jordan Pickett worked hard and did their best but struggled to find open receivers or read defense’s well enough to complete passes. It was a learning experience for both signal callers along with the rest of the offense and while the results everybody wanted wasn’t there, the Steel Squad did learn a lot and plan to bring a better approach to their next competition in two weeks down in Atlanta.
One shining star coming out of the Steel Squad was 2021 Rossview (TN) athlete Samuel Harding. The Hawks rising junior stood out with his natural football instincts and athleticism along with a great competitive nature. He works both sides of the ball at receiver and linebacker and shows early signs at excelling at either position down the road.
White Squad Puts Youth On Display
The best learning experience of the day might have came for the White Squad as while they might have finished the Rocky Top Classic at 1-3, they pulled out a victory and worked hard together as a developing cohesive unit.
Many players on the White Squad took time adjusting to their surroundings and playing together in the environment they were in but they eventually started to put things together. By the end of the day, the White Squad might have been the best unit CBA had besides what the Black Squad was doing on the field. That statement alone is a good sign going forward for such a young group of kids that were playing together for the first time ever.
Three players for the White Squad put together good debuts for CBA last weekend beginning with 2022 Blackman (QB) Isaiah Sembring, 2023 (QB) Bryce Peterson and 2023 (Ath) Jayden Satterfield. All three prospects showed good competitiveness and attention to detail throughout the day and could be guys the White Squad can lean on during the season.