The Leesburg football team did not drive all the way to Tallahassee just to get in a few games and head back home. They went to the Florida State Jimbo Fisher Camp 7-on-7 tournament to compete, and the Yellow Jackets almost won the whole thing.
Leesburg, led by standout rising senior quarterback/safety Jabari Dunham, lost just one game in pool play and made it to the championship game where the Jackets lost to Tallahassee Godby 20-19.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t win it all,” head coach Randy Trivers said in a text message Sunday morning, “but in all, it was a great day for Leesburg.”
Dunham had a terrific day Saturday. He marched his team down the field with pinpoint passing on offense, and came up with five interceptions over the course of the five-game pool play session.
“We most definitely felt like we were the best team there and we should have won the championship,” Dunham said. “But we go into every tournament thinking we can compete and we expect to win.”
Leesburg lost just one game in making it to the tourney’s Final Four. That loss came against fellow Central Florida entry Ocoee, which ended up 3-2 in the pool play.
Ocoee’s quarterback Jack Barr had a nice day for the Knights, showing good patience in allowing his receivers to get open, and also showing a keen ability to find the open man. His reads were extremely impressive for the rising junior.
As for Leesburg, Dunham had plenty of help. Players like Lee Bennett, Bryant Benton, Anfernee Scott and Charles Smith, in particular, came up with big catches throughout the course of the day.
But the biggest contribution came from an unlikely source in Leesburg kicker James Eldridge. No, they don’t use kickers in 7-on-7, but Eldridge showed he can do more than use his foot.
“James Eldridge stepped up big, especially in the championship game,” Dunham said. “They were leaving him open in the flats and he caught everything thrown to him. I don’t think he had a drop all day.
“I feel like we did pretty good. We came together as a team and we improved a lot since last week at UCF.”
Dunham continued to heap praise on his teammates.
“Anfernee also came up big on a couple wheel routes and I don’t think he dropped a ball all day either,” he said. “Lee Bennett had good tournament and he’s become kinda my go-to guy and he played both ways and Bryant Benton played both ways. Those guys were key, and then Charles, he’s a good slot guy ... scat-back and he can play any of the wide receiver spots.”
Charles Smith, the little 5-foot-4, 135-pound slot receiver was all over the field and had some of the Jackets best catches on the day.
But it was the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Dunham who made everything click, and he also showed why UCF has been showing interest in him as a defensive back.
“I thought I played pretty good ,” Dunham said. “I’m still learning to play DB and throughout my whole career I never played safety, so through two tournaments so far, I felt I did pretty well.”
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.