After winning in a much-anticipated semifinal that featured two of the top-ranked high school quarterbacks in the nation, Team Super Speed from Tampa, Fla., struggled in the first half of the championship game of the Nike 7ON national tournament against Team Merciless of Atlanta. But two second-half touchdown passes from tourney MVP Aaron Murray lifted Super Speed to a 30-14 victory over Team Merciless as the winners rallied from a 14-7 deficit.
"What most impressed me with you guys over the last two days was just our toughness," Super Speed coach Robert Weiner told his team after its stopped celebrating on the field at the Nike campus in Beaverton, Ore., for just a few moments. "Every moment when we faced a tough challenge, we were ready to answer."
Murray, who said he had never before had a streak of completions in a 7-on-7 contest like the 20 in a row he had in the semifinal win over Team Field Generals, said it was the entire Super Speed roster that contributed to the title.
"We just left everything on the field," he said after the championship game. "Our defense stepped up in the second half and the offense got going. It was unbelievable to win this title because there were so many great teams in it."
Murray, who hopes to lead his high school team at Plant High of Tampa this upcoming season to its second Class 4A state title in Florida in the last three years, completed 21 of 32 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns in the finale. Senior Orson Charles caught the go-ahead TD pass in the second half and led Super Speed with seven catches for 108 yards and two scores. Teammate Nathan Marvel also had two TD grabs and finished with three catches for 75 yards.
Team Merciless, which was comprised of players from Henry County High, a school of just over 800 students, completed an impressive runner-up finish. The Georgians were led in the final by senior Drew Little, who connected on 16 of 29 passes for 229 yards and two TDs. The top overall player for Team Merciless in the final, though, probably was senior Jamal Patterson. He came up with an interception on defense and had eight catches for 127 yards and one score.
NIKE 7ON All-Tournament Team
QB Matt Barkley - Field Generals (Santa Ana, Calif.); RB Quan Jones - Team Merciless (Atlanta); WR Greg Timmons - Strike Force (Houston); WR Orson Charles - Super Speed (Tampa, Fla.); WR Corey Brown - Super Bad (Monroeville, Pa.); WR Markeith Ambles - Team Merciless (Atlanta); WR Nathan Marvel - Super Speed (Tampa, Fla.)
LB Dorian Bell - Super Bad (Monroeville, Pa.); LB Mike Mirabella - Super Speed (Tampa, Fla.); DB Terry Hawthorne - Vapor Jets (East St. Louis, Ill.); DB Darius Williams-Fox - Speed TDs (Long Beach, Calif.); DB Javonte Martin - Super Speed (Tampa, Fla.); DB Justin Bright - Zoom Blade (Duncan, S.C.); DB Jamal Patterson - Team Merciless (Atlanta, Ga.)