GLASSBORO – The inaugural Adam Taliaferro Foundation Larry Ginsburg 7 v 7 Football Classic is in the books.
The 16-team field advanced through pool play Monday and Tuesday nights at Richard Whacker Stadium on the Rowan University campus with Camden, Cherry Hill West, Willingboro and Woodstown reaching Wednesday night’s semifinals.
Camden, led by the pinpoint passing of junior Jaylen Brownlee, emerged victorious, beating Cherry Hill West in the championship game, 25-8.
“Seven on seven fits us very well,” said Camden coach Dwayne Savage. “We like to throw the ball into space, catch it and run. It definitely fits our offense and helps us get better. It’s good because it gets the guys together, playing as a team and it’s always good to get them playing together at his age. It helps build chemistry.”
It is a little easier building team chemistry when your quarterback has an accurate powerful arm like Brownlee displayed in both the semifinal, a 31-16 win over Woodstown, and in the final against Cherry Hill West. He was on target on just about every pass, short and midrange sideline patterns and balls over the middle, and he was on the money with the deep throw, hitting his receivers in stride. It was an impressive evening.
“He’s been waiting in the wings,” Savage said. “He was a back up the last two years. Now he’s getting an opportunity.”
Brownlee took it all in stride. After the game, he talked about how important it was to spend time on the field with his teammates, building chemistry as they work toward next season.”
“It was good to come together and compete as a team,” Brownlee said. “I felt I learned a lot about coverages this week and playing together competing against other teams helps build chemistry. Now we can take this back and start building toward the season.”
Cherry Hill West had a good run in the tournament, going undefeated in pool play then beating Willingboro in the semifinals, 19-11, scoring the winning touchdown in the last minute of play.
All-in-all organizers were pleased with how the tournament was played. In the first year after scrapping the all-star game in favor of the 7 on 7 format, the 16 teams represented the minimum they felt they needed to make it successful according to Tom Iacovone, president of the Adam Taliaferro Foundation.
“Sixteen we thought would be the bottom line,” Iacovone said. “Yeah, we would have liked to have had 24 or 36, but, as it turns out, 16 was as good number. The first year of anything there are always growing pains and we found out we were late getting started. We didn’t start making contact with teams until February and, by that time, people were already committed to other places. We’ll get started earlier next year.
“The 16 teams we had year were just great. The coaches gave us some good suggestions and the kids have been great. We’ll take some of their ideas and go back to the drawing board.”
The objective is to raise money for ATF and, once again, they were successful. Iacovone estimated they would probably raise somewhere between $12 and $14,000, which is only slightly less than they would generally raise with the all-star game. All-in-all, it was a good start with the new format.