By JOSH FRYE
The Escambia Academy football program received its first breath of success for the 2019 season this past week in the form of a 7-on-7 tournament win at University of West Alabama in Livingston.
The Cougars, along with 13 other schools, competed in turf temperatures in excess of 119 degrees.
“The university’s football field is a turf layout,” Cougars assistant coach Mike Sims said. “It was a very long and hot day for us. A turf field is always hotter due to the small rubber pellets that make up the playing field.”
It was so hot, according to Sims, that his brand-new coaching shoes literally melted off and he had to finish the day coaching in a pair of flip flops.
Sims’ shoes were not the only victims to the heat, as several Cougar players lost cleats due to the excessive temperatures.
Despite the heat and conditions, the Cougars made an exceptional appearance.
“Seven-on-seven tournaments are really a quarterback game,” EA head coach High Fountain said. “The tournament is a throwing game, and the rules are very different from a regular football game.”
During a 7-on-7 tournament, the running game is turned off, and hits are not allowed in the capacity that they are created in an actual full, four-quarters game.
“I’m not a huge fan of the tournaments because many of the factors that come into play during a football game are not present,” said Fountain. “A huge part of Cougars football is our running and hitting skills, and those elements are not allowed during 7-on-7.”
Even though the elements of a full game are absent, the tournament does allow for insight into the throwing and catching ability of quarterbacks and receivers.
Scoring for this tournament was another unique feature.
Teams were awarded 6 points for a touchdown, 1 point for an extra point kick from the 5-yard line, 2 points for an extra point kick from the 10-yard line, 3 points for a defensive interception, 2 points for a defensive stop, but no points for a defensive stop or interception during an extra point attempt.
The Cougars started the tournament in pool play that placed them in 25-minute action, with a running clock, against four other schools.
EA saw action first against Sipsey Valley, which resulted in a 18-16 Cougars victory.
On the coattail of the first victory, the Cougars advanced and fell to Demopolis High, 16-12.
The loss, however, offered a wakeup call to EA, which made easy work of Jackson Academy, defeating the Eagles 20-19 and Wilcox Central, which fell to EA by a 24-8 score.
With pool play out the way, the Cougars advanced to the tournament-play section and opened with a 32-0 win over Wilcox Central.
The Cougars also knocked off Jackson Academy, 23-15 and Jackson High, in two overtimes, 23-17.
With a sweep going into the final game of the tournament, the Cougars made quick work of Demopolis once again with a final score of 21-19, to secure the overall tournament win.
“I was really proud of how the guys handled the tournament,” said Fountain. “They played great and showed that they were well conditioned and competitive. This is a competitive group of young men and we are excited to make a run for the title once again this season.”
Quarterbacks Cameron Cloud and Landon Sims gave a glimpse into the Cougars arsenal, while receivers such as Ty Williams, Daughtry McGhee, Chase Bell and Shannon Wheat made some noteworthy catches.