"It was just great determination, and these kids wanted it – I thought they were running out of fuel a few games ago, but they took it personally, they're competitors," said Brett Goetz, SFEE's coach said of the championship win. "We're excited to defend our Southeast Championship from last year, and we're excited to come back her this summer and do it again."
It's one of those things were if they played ten times each time would win five. But over the weekend they met a trio of times, all on Sunday. In the first game the Fire won by a single point, 19-18. The game was marred by a questionable officials call. SFE tied the score on the game's final play and connected on the conversion but their receiver was ruled out of bounds. Tempers flared on both sides.
The Fire won and moved on through the winner's bracket. Behind the quarterback play of Quinton Flowers (Miami Jackson), big play junior wide receiver Shawn Burgess-Becker (Coconut Creek, Fla./Monarch), shutdown cornerback Derrick Tindal (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./Boy Anderson) and super safety Michael Johnson (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic) they marched on and cruised to the final.
Meanhile, Goetz's team had to fight their way through the loser's bracket to get their revenge against the Fire. They beat Team Tampa Too, Team Tampa, and the Top Recruits (Orlando) to get their matchup against the Fire. To win the championship they had to beat the Fire twice.
In the first game of the finals, SFEE won 12-9. Both teams were showing fatigue and the defenses dominated. It was the first loss by the Fire in three tournaments as they won an impressive 19 games in a row.
After a five minute break they played the rubber match. Both offenses had three and outs on their respective first possessions. Then, quarterback Sean White (Nova University School hit their sensational freshman Sam Bruce for the game's first touchdown. The Fire countered with a Flowers to Henry Bussey (Hialeah, Fla.) touchdown to tie the score.
Both defenses then each had a stop and the game was tied at 11 and the clock was ticking. SFEE five-star wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla.) dropped what would have been a long go-ahead touchdown that would have put them up on third down. That gave the Fire a 13-11 edge. Then, Burgess-Becker dropped a sure first down that may have put the game away. Instead, the game was now tied at 13.
With time running out the SFEE faced a third down. There was only enough time on the clock for one play. If they scored the SFEE would win. With a stop, the Fire would take home a championship. Bruce ran a flat route from the running back position and White found him on a short pass just as he crossed the endzone.
SFEE won 19-13.
"I just saw Sam Bruce, he's a stud, beat his man to the outside, and I just threw it and put it there and he made the great catch," White said of the game winning pass. "[The Florida Fire] were a good team, and it was fun to go against them – they were competitive, and that's always a fun environment to play in."
This Tampa Bay Tech standout has visited the Bulls this spring. Last season he had 800 all-purpose yards and returned three kickoffs for touchdowns.
Litton Eyeballs Camps This Summer
When it's all said and done Chase Litton (Tampa Wharton) could have a stock pile of scholarship offers. Right now he's only sitting on USF, LSU, and Western Michigan. But that could chance a lot over the next week and this summer.
"I plan on camping at Georgia for sure," Litton said. "They are coming by to see me this spring. So is Vandy and Kentucky and I may try and camp at those schools as well."
Stewart To Make Visits
South Florida commitment Jarvis Stewart said he plans on visiting school despite being a pledge to the Bulls.
"Hey, this is a new experience for me," Stewart said. "I want to see what else is out there. USF knows of my intentions."
It will be tough to pry this running back prospect away from Willie Taggert and USF. In fact, he's a blood relative to the new South Florida head coach.
"We are actually cousins," Stewart said. "So we get along very well and they are going to turn around that program. I love what they are doing. I love the community feel of USF. I love the system and scheme they are going to run. I feel like it will be a good transition for me in the pro-style.
Stewart said that West Virginia, Kentucky and LSU are three schools he would like to make official visits to.
Bruins On Harvey Largo (Fla.) wide receiver is somewhat of an under the radar wide receiver talent from the Sunshine State. Right now he has scholarship offers from USF, Middle Tennessee State, Ball State and Indiana. But a Pac 12 power could be offering soon.
"I think UCLA is very close to offering me a scholarship," Harvey said. "At least that's what they are telling me. I am also talking to Florida a lot. We will see what happens with them."
"They were interested in me and wanted me to visit. They wanted to see my size and eye ball me. So we went out there and I loved it. They offered and I committed. I really liked the campus, the coaches and the school. Plus, it's just a great offense, especially if you are a quarterback like me. Coach [Mike] Leach has had great success and he's going to get Washington State going. That would be cool to be a part of. I mean they threw it like 60 times in their spring game. It's exciting times up there."
Bender, 6-foot-1 and 177-pounds, threw for over 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns last season as a junior.
Two Standout For '15 RB
Jacques Patrick (Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek) is now up to 33 scholarship offers. His latest ones are from North Carolina, USF and Wisconsin. This is a big back that will be one of the top prospects in Florida next season. Right now, two in-state schools are his favorites.
"I am open but I would say that FSU and Florida are my top schools at this point," Patrick said. "Florida State was my first offer. I talk with coach Fisher a lot and he seems like a great guy. I have been there a few times now and just really like that program a lot.
"Florida is appealing as well. They love to run downhill and I am a downhill runner. I like that offense. Plus, a degree there in this state can go a long way."
"I like those teams," Patrick said. "I am talking with Urban Meyer from Ohio State a lot."
Bayes To Make Visits
South Florida commitment Jimmy Bayes (Immokalee, Fla.) says he loves the Bulls but he still plans on making visits.
"USF is just a great opportunity for me," Bayes said. "It's an opportunity to compete and that's all I ask for. They are not selling smoke if you know what I mean. I want to play for those coaches because those coaches are going to change that program."
Bayes, 6-foot-3 and 198-pounds, is a long wide receiver and outside linebacker. He says he has 13 offers from and wants to make all five of his official visits.
"I would love to visit Georgia, West Virginia, and South Carolina," Bayes said. "I want to see who else offers and what happens. My coach played at Georgia and he's taking me up there in a few weeks."
This spring Bayes has visited USF, Alabama, Miami and Florida State (last week).
Harrell Favors Three
T.J. Harrell (Tampa Catholic) is emerging as one of the top recruits from the Tampa Bay area. He currently has 28 scholarship offers and now has three leaders.
"Boston College was the latest to offer," Harrell said. "Right now USF, Florida State and Michigan State are my front runners."
"It's exciting for me," Craig said. "I was surprised and had no idea. Man, I am a freshman."
And a talented freshman to boot. He's 6-foot-3 and 200-pounds and starts at wide receiver and safety for Pasco High School.
Don't Sleep On Tindal
Remember the name Derrick Tindal. He plays cornerback for Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson. You could make a case that he was the top corner at IMG this weekend. He was outstanding against some super receivers. Coming into this event he hadn't allowed a reception in the previous two 7-on tournaments for Florida Fire. Over the weekend he only allowed on reception to my knowledge.
This is a kid that's 5-foot-11 and 172-pounds. He's fast, has great hips and closing speed. While Tindal does need to bulk up he looks good and comfortable in press man and doesn't back down to anyone. Tindal breaks on the ball well, showing a burst and suddenness.
Florida continues to lead for offensive tackle Denzel Ward (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy). He's been talking to Florida quarterback commitment Will Grier regularly. He said he doesn't plan to commit for quite some time.
Ermon Lane still has no favorites. He enjoyed his Miami visit. He wants to visit a few schools this summer including Alabama and USC.
Quinton Flowers' latest offer is from Syracuse. He doesn't know too much about the program but he likes what he does know. He hopes to visit this summer. He's pretty much ruled out Miami even though he's a lifelong fan. The 'Canes want him at wide receiver and he's determined to play quarterback.
Super sophomore wide receiver George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) showed up in a sling. He recently found out that he broke a bone (Scaphid Bind) in his wrist and had surgery this past Friday. The injured actually occurred in a playoff win against Vero Beach in late November.
Gilbert Johnson (Miami Southridge) is a wide receiver from south Florida that claims scholarship offers from Marshall and Pitt. He had an impressive Saturday. Johnson is 6-foot-3 and 180-pounds.