Ever since South Forsyth knocked off two traditional powers and nearly another in the 2015 GHSA playoffs the War Eagles have spent the offseason in a baptism into the every-day life of an elite football program.
South participated in the Corky Kell Classic’s 7-on-7 tournament last month as a precursor to its debut in the fall special against Hillgrove at McEachern High School to kick off the 2016 campaign.
That tour will continue this weekend as the War Eagles will compete in the USA Football 7-on-7 national tournament in Hoover, Ala. South will be one of 48 teams from across the southeast in the tournament, which will offer each contesting group at least seven games, each of which will be 21 minutes long.
Pool play will begin Thursday at 3 p.m., followed by knockout games starting on Friday. Each of Friday and Saturday’s contests will be live-streamed on the NFHS Network website.
South is one of just seven teams from Georgia that qualified for the tournament through regional play—the War Eagles won the regional at Lassiter High School with a perfect record through nine games, beating Valdosta 32-2 in the finals. Cherokee, Grayson, Centennial, Lassiter, Pierce County and Colquitt County, the Class AAAAAA state champions, will also lace it up in Hoover.
South’s pool play opponents include Carver-Montgomery, Gadesen City (Ala.), Thompson (Ala.), Warren Easton (La.) and Wanonah (Ala.).
Overall, South has had considerable success in 7-on-7 competition this summer. After reaching the semifinals at the Corky Kell, the War Eagles went undefeated at the USA Football regional in Marietta. Here’s what a few South head coach Jeff Arnette had to say about how the competition has fared and how it applies to 11-on-11 football.
FCN: Defensively it has to be tough to succeed in these types of events, but scores from previous competition this offseason prove otherwise. What is necessary to have success in such an offensively-geared event?
Arnette: Everybody knows it’s pretty much all about the offense. The quarterback is on the clock, but other than that it’s tough. Our defensive guys play extremely hard and they run to the football like crazy. They really work together with coverages. Those are some of the reasons we’ve been successful. Really, if you get a couple of stops you should expect to win a game. It’s tough to get a stop.
FCN: You’re playing over a hand full of games a day, over a weekend, and it’s summer. What do these events do for your team’s conditioning?
Arnette: When we were at Lassiter we played eight games in a 24-hour period. It’s extremely taxing on the kids. We don’t have anyone going both ways and we move personnel in and out. You pretty much have to do that to make it far.
FCN: From having a deep playoff run, to competing in the Corky Kell 7-on-7, to now qualifying for the USA Football nationals, South is still having success, even though you’re replacing starters for the second year in a row. How?
Arnette: I think it bottles up to what we did in the playoffs. We gained a lot of confidence and it has carried over into the offseason. It’s a great experience to get involved in this. That’s definitely good for our program, experiencing something like this. We’re just doing our best and working to get better.