TAMPA — Winter Park wowed everyone with its 9-0 march through the USF Sling & Shoot 7-on-7 passing tournament this past weekend in Tampa. The Wildcats' have plenty of talent, but they also showed how important it is to play together as a team. All Winter Park players seemed to be on the same page all weekend. Most every player contributed to the championship, which they ultimately won with a title-game victory over Orange County neighbor Dr. Phillips, 28-14.
Dr. Phillips was impressive in it's own right, having to fight through the losers' bracket after losing early on Sunday morning. The Panthers had to win 8 straight games to get back into the championship game.
There were numerous standout performers in the two-day tourney, but here is how I saw the performances in the 22-team field.
MVP — This is easy. Winter Park WR/LB Dvario Montgomery (6-3, 195) was, hands down, the top player. It seemed he was drawing oohs and aahs after every play he made. One fan from opposing Melbourne Viera High during a game on Saturday hollered at Montgomery and said, "You got a big future in football." The rising junior made so many catches in traffic that it was disappointing if he ever failed to connect. He's a big target at 6 feet 3, 195 pounds and is very athletic.
Top QB — Sam Richardson (6-3, 18), Winter Park. Another easy choice. Richardson, who is known for being a dual threat QB, didn't have the option to run in this format, so he just sat back and dissected defense after defense in Winter Park's 9-0 run to the tourney title. He's obviously been working with his receivers, because the timing between him and receivers Montgomery, Max Chomic, Dan Ruda and Dominique Rouse was impeccable. His ability to see the whole field and know just where his receivers were played a big role in his success. Other top QBs: Rising sophomore Jacob Guy, Pasco County; Josh Grady, Seffner Armwood; rising junior Nick Patti, Dr. Phillips.
Top RB — Dee Hart, Dr. Phillips. Hart was wiped out after playing two ways for almost 15 games over the weekend as the Panthers had to fight their way back through the losers' bracket. He rarely showed that fatigued on the field, however, and he was DP's go-to-guy, as usual, helping them reach the championship game. Other Top RBs: Mike Bellamy, Punta Gorda Charlotte; Matt Jones, Seffner Armwood; J.J. Hubbard, Tampa Robinson.
Top WR — Toss-up with Winter Park's Max Chomic and Pasco's Jamie Byrd. Chomic was always in the right place at the right time for Winter Park. His Wes Welker-like curl routes and his ability to get open helped Richardson's accuracy. Chomic was also a deep threat. About the only team that contained Byrd all weekend was Winter Park, but he ran all over the field at will against most other teams. Other Top WRs: Ruben Gonzalez, Tampa Robinson; Hakeeme Ishmar, Pasco; Shaun Applewhite, Melbourne Viera; Chris Gallon, Dr. Phillips; Reggie Glover, Dr. Phillips; Mike Milano, Dr. Phillips; Alex Mut, Punta Gorda Charlotte (sprained ankle during tourney); Ha'sean Clinton-Dix, Dr. Phillips; Dan Ruta, Winter Park.
Co-defensive players — There were numerous defensive stars, but two who stood out were Jamie Byrd and Mike Clower of Pasco County. They were as tough in coverage on Dr. Phillips' Dee Hart as anyone. Nobody ever completely shuts down Hart, but they kept him pretty quiet during Pasco's victory over the Panthers on Saturday. Others: Dvario Montgomery, Winter Park; Brandon Brown-Dukes, Winter Park; Tevin Newman, Tampa Robinson; Anthony Harrell, Tampa Freedom; Phillip Amone, Dr. Phillips; Ha'sean Clinton-Dix, Dr. Phillips; LaQuentin Smith, Dr. Phillips; Roderick Ryles, Dr. Phillips; Bobby Van Warner, Winter Park; Max Chomic, Winter Park; Matt Jones, Armwood; Frankie Williams, Tampa Robinson.
Breakout player — Viera's Shaun Applewhite, a 6-1, 180-pounder who usually plays defensive back for Viera, but in these passing tournaments, players get a lot of opportunities, and Applewhite certainly took advantage. He made some nice catches, but it was mostly his runs after the catch that were impressive. He has some swivel-hip moves that left defenders turning circles. Other breakout players: WR/DB Robbie Lohnes, Tampa Freedom; RB Joey Sanchez, Melbourne Viera (all 5-foot-2 of him), WR Eric Harrell, Dr. Phillips; Do-it-all Pat Fenlon, Dr. Phillips; WR Jake Janse, Dr. Phillips.
Chris Hays is the recruiting coverage coordinator for the Orlando Sentinel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun