Money and bragging rights were on the line July 10 at the annual DTLR’s 7-on-7 Invitational Tournament.
Atlanta Falcons player Jonathan Babineaux, Green Bay Packers player Morgan Burnett and former NFL players Chauncey Davis and Daniel Wilcox hosted the tournament at Grady Stadium in Atlanta. The tournament featured 10 teams from DeKalb, Clayton and Fulton counties, and Atlanta Public Schools. Representing DeKalb were Cedar Grove, Lithonia, McNair and Redan.
Babineaux, Davis and Wilcox designed the 7-on-7 Invitational Tournament (7 offense/7 defense) to showcase talented football players from metro Atlanta. This year’s tournament also featured Babineaux’s “Big Man’s Challenge,” a competition between offensive and defensive linemen. The challenge was judged on power tests, drills, quickness, footwork and technique.
Wilcox, a 1996 Decatur High School graduate, said the tournament is an opportunity for him and other NFL players to give back to the communities in Atlanta.
“That’s why we made it a battle of the counties,” Wilcox said. “We wanted to pull [schools] from all parts of Atlanta, from every county and have the guys compete for bragging rights. They can walk away and say, ‘We’re the best in the county’ or ‘We’re the best in the state right now.’
“This is an opportunity for every team to get better, to work on their timing, to work on their mechanics, work on their routes and work on their defense to build the team chemistry it takes in order for a team to be successful throughout the season,” Wilcox added.
The firs-round matchups of the tournament featured Cedar Grove against Redan and Lithonia against McNair.
Cedar Grove and Lithonia were winners in the first round. Cedar Grove’s squad featured returning starting quarterback Jelani Woods, running back LaBron Morris and safety Tre Shaw.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to compete and just get better,” said Cedar Grove coach Jermaine Smith said.
Lithonia coach Marcus Jelks said the tournament was an opportunity for his team to get extra work in.
“It’s good work, good competition in the summer,” he said.
The Bulldogs team features top defensive end prospect Jordan Smith, who has more than 30 Division 1 offers. Lithonia is coming off a season where the Bulldogs made their first playoff appearance since 2002. Jelks said last year’s success has brought more attention to the team and increased participation.
“[The players] have been doing good and they’ve been working hard this summer,” Jelks said. “We have the most numbers we’ve had ever at Lithonia this summer.”
Redan coach Roderick Moore wanted his team to “get some work in against some top quality competition.”
“This gives us a measuring board to see where we’re at as far as competing and so forth,” he said.
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