New Castle News

June 18, 2013

High School Football: ’Canes to compete in national 7-on-7 competition

Andrew Petyak
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Years ago, the New Castle High football team carved out a reputation as a national powerhouse.

It’s that reputation that helped earn the Red Hurricane an invitation to compete in next month’s National Select 7-on-7 Championships in Hoover, Ala.

The event pits 32 of the best teams throughout the nation in a tournament format, which will guarantee seven games per team in pool play. The 7-on-7 action provides a chance for skill position players to test their agility and speed without the use of offensive or defensive line in a one-hand touch, 21-minute showdown. Of the 32 squads competing, 16 make their way in via regional tournaments, while the remaining 16, like New Castle, get in by invitation.   

Although the ’Canes have struggled to live up to their powerhouse distinction in recent years, finishing 4-5 a season ago, second-year coach Joe Cowart is hoping to bring the program back to its roots with trips like this.

“We think it’s a worthwhile experience,” Cowart said. “We think for our  players who can be involved in it, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for the kids. Our kids will be able to see some of the best of the best in the United States.”

The National Select 7-on-7 Championship is in its 11th year and has featured some of the top football talent in the country, including Atlanta Falcons superstar wide receiver Julio Jones and the nation’s No. 1 recruiting prospect last year, Robert Nkemdiche. So far, teams from  Missouri, Ohio, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Colorado are scheduled to attend.  

“We have a pedigree that goes behind our program. We have some top-level talent on our team. We have some highly recruited players on our team,” Cowart said. “They’ll have kids down there who are top-level talent. It will be a bonding experience for our young men. This is something we think is going to be a worthwhile cause. A lot of people say that something is going to be  once in a lifetime, but this legitimately is.”

The program is slated to run from July 24-26. With Gatorade and Under Armour among two of the sponsors of the event, free gear and informational sessions will be provided to each athlete.

Fans will be able to view the New Castle boys in action, as every 7-on-7 game will be broadcast live on the official website — http://www.select7on7.com/index.html.

The ’Canes anticipate around 20 of their athletes will attend the tournament, led by potential Division I recruit Malik Hooker. New  Castle is making the trip with Seneca Valley’s football team and is seeking donations to help cover expenses.

“We need as many sponsors as we can get,” Cowart said. “Even if they want to sponsor a player or give a few dollars, it’s a worthwhile thing. It’s a chance for the kids to get out of our community and see different things.

“It’s going to be an amazing trip, no question about it. We’re hoping people will back us and support us.”

For those interested in donating or sponsoring the team, call Cowart at (724) 674-0427.  

(Email: a_petyak@ncnewsonline.com).