The annual Optimum Performance Sports 7v7 Summit City Shootout has become a tradition of sorts for area programs and Blitz alike. For this fuzzy bear, it is the unofficial kickoff of the upcoming season as coaches and kids continue preparations for the fall.
The event also allows Blitz to see a multitude of area squads in one place – complete with old faces in new faces and emerging talents ready to step up and show out come August.
A glance at what Blitz picked up on at Carroll on Wednesday amongst the large schools…
For the second consecutive season, the Legends captured the large school title on Wednesday, knocking off Bishop Luers in the final.
It was a mix of new and old for North, as Bishop Dwenger transfer Bohde Dickerson showcased his skills behind center for his new team, while Bishop Luers transfer Da’von Doughty did the same at linebacker. Both seniors are expected to make big impacts in 2022.
At the same time, junior Brauntae Johnson showcased his five-star skill time and again as a matchup nightmare for defenses.
A year ago, the Legends were riding high after this event, but faltered in the season finishing 2-7. So will this fall be different in Coach Ben Johnson’s second year?
The key may be Dickerson. Three different players saw significant time at QB for North a year ago. Between Rodney Woods, Brashawn Bassett and Donovan Williams, signal callers threw seven TDs against nine INTs in 2022.
In short, the Legends lacked consistency at the position.
With Woods graduated and Williams having transferred to New Haven, Dickerson can slot in as a true QB, allowing Bassett as a great athlete to help the team elsewhere.
North Side scored over 14 points in a game just three times last year. The defense needs to be much better, but the offense must be more consistent and explosiveness.
Dickerson could be the key to that.
Coach Kyle Lindsay left Wednesday’s event in good spirits after his new-look squad reached the finals of the large school division with the Knights playing “up” in competition.
While a LOT of production is gone from a 10-win campaign last year, Lindsay still has pieces in Toledo-bound Nick Thompson and underrated defender Jackson McCullough.
But what stood out the most to Blitz was the play of Charlie Stanski at QB. Taking over for Carson Clark, Stanski made some throws that Blitz has never seen him make. The senior event impressed Lindsay, who beamed when asked about Stanski’s development.
With a big but young offensive front and some new playmakers on offense, Stanski will need to be the calming influence as he himself settles in as QB1. It is a pressure-filled situation, but Stanski led by example on Wednesday.
June has been kind to junior wide receiver Mylan Graham, who has racked up offers from Indiana, Michigan, Miami (OH), Michigan State and Notre Dame this month alone.
The explosive 6-foot wideout displayed on Wednesday why he is coveted by many Midwest programs. In bracket play against East Noble, the Knights double-covered Graham at the line of scrimmage, with safety help looming about 5-6 yards off.
Time and again, Graham made cuts and moves to break free and hauled in pass after pass for the Bulldogs, effectively taking out East Noble by himself.
If Donovan Williams can get Graham the ball consistently in the regular season, the junior playmaker should torch NE8 competition time and again.
The presence of the late Owen Scheele was felt throughout the Shootout, with OPS giving out event t-shirts with “#OwenStrong” and his No. 13 on the back. The parents of Owen were also on hand for a bit taking in the event and watching Carroll. The Chargers rotated a series of quarterbacks as it searches for someone to take the snaps this season.
While questions remain at quarterback, there were some good moments for Carroll as they also search for their next big yardage receiver after Jameson Coverstone’s graduation. Cam Herschberger made some really nice plays, as did Gabe Starks. There are options for the Chargers and Wednesday was a nice peak into that.
Year 3 under Coach Sherwood Haydock will be telling at Wayne, which doubled its win total from two to four over the course of the first two seasons under Haydock.
It was a tough day for the Generals on Wednesday, which saw a few leads get away late in matchups with Homestead and North Side. But there were some positive signs, as quarterback Christian Trimble made some solid throws throughout the day. The fact that arguably Wayne’s biggest offensive weapon – 1,600-yard rusher Lamarion Nelson – was not in his comfort zone in the pass-only format, is also a big asterisk when judging Wayne.
But the defense must be better. Admittedly, it is a unit that has had very little time together as a unit, with lots of confusion in terms of coverages and pre-snap reads. Those things should be worked out by the time we kick off the season on August 19. If so, the Generals have an opportunity to take another step forward.
Homestead rotated quarterbacks Peyton Slaven and Jimmy Sullivan at Wednesday’s event. Slaven is returning after a 1,800-yard, 19-touchdown campaign that also saw him run for five scores, but Sullivan looked impressive in the Shootout. Could the Spartans play two QBs consistently this fall? Slaven is a senior and Sullivan only a sophomore…Grant Leeper is going to be a matchup problem for defenses if he can handle the physicality on the gridiron. The hoopster is giving football a shot again and at 6-foot-7 is a big target that is deceptively quick in the open field…East Noble was the lone program to bring two teams, with the JV squad coming close to advancing all the way to the finals of the small school division while familiar QB Zander Brazel led the varsity team.
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