The IMG7v7 Southeast Regional Championship attracted 20 of the top club 7v7 football teams from Florida, New Jersey and Washington D.C. to IMG Academy. Once the dust settled, it was South Florida Express Elite (SFE) of Miami, Fla. standing alone as IMG7v7 Southeast Regional champion after defeating Elite Athletic Performance (EAP) of Gainesville, Fla., 38-22.
“It feels great to win another (Southeast Regional title), we certainly put the hard work in, and it was a very competitive field and we feel good, but at the end of the day we’re at the top of the mountain,” remarked SFE Head Coach Chad Wilson. “The National Championship is always something we look forward to, and we’ve got momentum, but we know from years past, not to rest on it.”
Wilson added, “It’s our third championship, but we don’t have three national championships. We know there is still work to do and we still need to get better, and we know everyone will be gunning for us when we come back in June.”
Led by the likes of Sam Bruce (St. Thomas Aquinas/Class of 2016/Miami commit), Emmanuel Greene (IMG Academy/Class of 2017) and Dionte Mullins (Gulliver Prep/Class of 2016/Miami commit), the team really found their stride on Sunday, entering the championship bracket as a #2 seed on the strength of a 4-0 record in pool play. However, it was defensive back Cedrick Wright (Gulliver Prep/Class of 2016/Miami commit) that may have made the biggest impact, picking up IMG7v7 Southeast Regional Defensive MVP honors.
“It feels great to win again,” said Wright on helping the team win a third regional title. “We have a lot of responsibility to come to these events and perform, and we want to dominate. But I’m just looking forward for us to getting better as individuals, and as men.”
SFE Elite had to face a formidable foe in the final in Gainesville’s Elite Athletic Performance. A #9 seed in the tournament after a 2-2 showing in pool play, it was an uphill battle for the central Florida squad. But they persevered, knocking off everyone that stood in their way. In the semifinal, EAP defeated Team Tampa for the second time of the day, 25-12, to reach the title. Deservedly, EAP wide receiver/defensive back Brooks Martin (Trenton High/Class of 2016) was named IMG7v7 Southeast Regional Offensive MVP after a standout performance, getting first downs and scoring virtually at-will.
“I just saw mismatch problems all day with the linebackers, so I was able to get inside them and get separation,” said Martin on his Offensive MVP outing. “I felt good, my quarterback really did an excellent job, and I thank my coaches for giving me such an opportunity to play.
It was the third IMG7v7 Southeast Regional Championship for the South Florida Express, having previously won it back-to-back in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Jacksonville’s Pro Impact won the title over cross-town rival club River City Kings.
The IMG7v7 Southeast Regional appears is also gaining traction as a destination for teams, with two programs traveling nearly 1,000 miles to compete in the high octane event. This year, Washington D.C. based Perfect Performance, who competed in the event a year ago, was joined by New Jersey’s Next Level Greats.
SFE and EAP each earned invitations to the IMG7v7 National Championship at IMG Academy, June 19-21. Joining them at the event will be third and fourth-place finishers Team Tampa (Tampa, Fla.) and Next Level Greats (New Jersey), respectively.
The full list of teams competing in this year’s IMG7v7 Southeast Regional Championship included: Next Level Greats 1 (New Jersey), South Florida Express Elite (Miami, Fla.), Team Belle Glade (Belle Glade, Fla.), Team Tampa (Tampa, Fla.), South Florida Express Pro (Miami, Fla.), Pro Impact (Jacksonville, Fla.), No Fly Zone (Miramar, Fla.), Next Level Great 2 (New Jersey), Elite Athletic Performance (Jacksonville, Fla.), Hardknocks Blue (Miami, Fla.), Perfect Performance Black (Washington D.C.), Team Tampa Too (Tampa, Fla.), Gridiron Sports Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.), Enhance Sports Training (Jacksonville, Fla.), Change Factor (Bradenton/Sarasota, Fla.), Perfect Performance Orange (Washington D.C.), Faithful Fitness Athletics (Pensacola, Fla.), Performance First (St. Petersburg, Fla.), and Hardknocks Red (Miami, Fla.).