ST. AMANT — Hayden Mallory didn’t think the 2016 adidas/Airo Louisiana 7-on-7 Championship would bring so many people to St. Amant High.
It won’t lead to a championship for Mallory and the host Gators. But it increased the level of excitement and competition by Thursday afternoon as six teams advanced to the quarterfinals set for 10:30 a.m. Friday at SAHS. The final is set for 12:30 p.m.
“This tournament has been awesome and it’s been more people than what we expected,” Mallory said. “It’s crowded with full of competition but we are enjoying it and getting better.”
Mallory was one of the quarterbacks who earned praise on Wednesday. When St. Amant lost to Landry-Walker, it was a another quarterback, Mississippi State commitment Keytaon Thompson, who moved on in the spotlight.
“This tournament has been great feeling,” Thompson said. “Playing St. Amant was a real tough game. They came to play in their hometown and we just fought back. This is a real intense tournament. Adidas put on a great, competitive atmosphere. There are teams from all over and everyone’s main goal is just to win.”
St. Augustine, West Feliciana, Scotlandville, Loranger, and Warren Easton were the other teams to advance. Two teams from Lafayette portion of the tourney, LaGrange and Breaux Bridge, also will join the field. With as many as six games going at one time, each on a 40-yard field, there is no shortage of action.
LSU commitment Lowell Narcisse and St. James met sophomore Lance LeGendre and Warren Easton on another field. LeGendre, a sophomore, accounted for four touchdowns in a 40-9 win. Narcisse, is rated No. 2 quarterback in the nation, but the rankings didn’t matter on to LeGendre.
“It is a nice experience at this tourney and good to see a lot of people come out,” LeGendre said. “Competing and challenging each other overall is what we are here for.”
Though the field is smaller and stakes may not seem as high, the quarterbacks and their teams got just as emotionally involved and celebrated victories much like they do in the regular season.
Mallory and LeGendre said they do something else you’d expect, spend extra time learning the the playbook. That study has cost LeGendre some of his social life, but he says the sacrifice is worth it. A 7-on-7 tourney offers an exam on those playbook studies.
“It means a lot being a high school athlete,” Mallory added. “It’s fun and time management is the key. You have to put your student responsibilities first, and athletics follows that. Knowing the ins and outs of the playbook helps you answer every question the defense brings you.”
The talent level and the organization of the tournament amazed Warren Easton offensive coordinator Jeremy Ledlow.
“One of the most well-organized tournaments that I’ve been in, Ledlow said. “A lot of schools are getting a lot of work and you can see that with all the talent that’s here. My kids are competing, and then we teach them the ambition to work out the kinks in defense and offense.”