Sunday, May 5, 2013
Lessons Learned: IMG West Regional
By Blair Angulo and Erik McKinney
FULLERTON, Calif. -- Some of the region's top teams showcased their skills in the IMG 7v7 West Regional at Fullerton College this past weekend, with the top four squads -- B2G 5-Star, Body By Tra, Those Guys #1 and TGS Warriors -- qualified for the national championship, which runs June 21-23 in Bradenton, Fla. Here is what we learned:
1. B2G gets payback
Iman Marshall and B2G bounced back at the IMG 7-on-7 Regional.
The last time B2G 5-Star and Body By Tra squared off, it was in the finals of last weekend's Passing Down tournament, and Body By Tra rolled to a decisive victory. This time around, B2G took advantage of a first-round bye and an undefeated romp through the winner's bracket to exact their revenge, with an impressive victory over Body By Tra in the finals. The big plays for B2G were recorded by 2015 defensive back Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), who grabbed a crucial interception, and wide receiver Dashawn Gordon (Los Alamitos, Calif./Los Alamitos), who caught a touchdown to ice the game.
2. Star power folds early
Despite featuring five-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), ESPN 150 athlete John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and No. 1-rated tight end Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada), among others, Team AIGA failed to advance out of the quarterfinal stage. It was the first 7-on-7 appearance of the season for Jackson and Smith, nicknamed "JuJu," since both focused on their track and field talents this spring. The rust was evident, but opposing teams also appeared to have more motivation when facing the highly-rated bunch. Jackson walked off the turf with a disappointed look on his face and acknowledged there were too many mixups in the secondary to have success.
3. Solid turnout for the West Coast
Though Los Angeles-based B2G Five Star took the headlines by capturing the tournament title, the Arizona- and Northern California-based teams should also be noted for turning in good performances. Core 6 West showed well, even without ESPN 150 quarterback Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) -- who missed the event after deciding to compete at the Elite 11 in Chicago -- and highly regarded tight end Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain). Phoenix-based Those Guys, led by receiver Jalen Brown (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe), and Sacramento-based TGS Warriors had great weekends.
4. Year of the gear
For many recruits, the two-day event was another opportunity to make fashion statements. Jackson wore a pair of USC socks Saturday, but shrugged off a potential significance. Among others, fast-rising 2015 defensive back Marvell Tell (Encino, Calif./Crespi) wore a pair of UCLA gloves throughout the weekend. Receiver Erik Brown (Fontana, Calif./Summit), showing his high interest in Washington, rocked a Seattle Mariners baseball cap backward, just as a young Ken Griffey Jr. would.
This was the area's final club-team event of the circuit, at least until the IMG national championship in late June. Friendships were established and meetings took place, which only add intrigue to the high school football season. At one point Saturday, Team AIGA had members from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, Gardena (Calif.) Serra and Long Beach (Calif.) Poly on the field together. High school teams will field 7-on-7 teams from here on out. Next up is the "Battle at the Beach" tournament at Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison, scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.