NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Another year, with some new faces. Yet the champion of the second annual Titans 7-on-7 Passing Tournament remained the same – Oakland High.
Oakland defeated Brentwood Academy 22-14 in the title game on Wednesday after beating Harpeth and East Nashville to get to the championship. A total of 12 teams took part in the event on a day when all the programs benefited from the competition as teams gear up for the start of the high school football season.
"This isn't football, but it is good to do football things. It is good to cover people, good to throw and catch, good to play some coverage and good to be able to compete, most importantly,'' Oakland coach Kevin Creasy said. "We are real pleased with how our guys threw and caught the ball, played defense, played coverage. And I'm really proud with how they competed.
"We tell them we are here to work and get better. Winning will take care of itself. It is not necessarily that we want to be one-hand touch football champions, but we want to get good at football skills that will make you a champion. So competing and being able to hold your composure when things don't go well ... is important.
"I'm glad the Titans are hosting this. I feel like it's a great event, to be able to come here. And I know it was good work for us."
Titans youth and high school football coordinator Josh Corey organized the event.
Corey was a high school coach himself at Fletcher High (Fla.). He taught and coached at Fletcher from 1997-2014 after a playing on the offensive line at the University of Florida from '93-95.
"Guys are out here competing and getting better and we're happy to provide the opportunity,'' Corey said. "It's a long hot summer with these high school programs with their strength and conditioning, so it is a nice break for them to be able to come out here and compete against other schools and have a little fun before they roll into preseason practice next week.
"I have only been with the Titans for two years and I am amazed at the quality of high school football in the state of Tennessee and especially Middle Tennessee. It is really great to see these kids out here competing."
Titans host second annual 7-on-7 Passing Tournament, with Oakland High capturing its second straight title. (Photos: Susanna Nickell)
Since the Titans are in the process of erecting a new indoor practice facility Saint Thomas Sports Park, the team partnered with Metro Parks and the tournament moved down the road to Ted Rhodes Park in MetroCenter.
A total of 12 teams took part in the tournament. In addition to Oakland and Brentwood Academy, East Nashville Magnet, Page, Rossview, Harpeth, Wayne County, Ezell-Harding, Clarksville, Lipscomb, Clarksville Northwest and Clarksville Northeast all participated as well.
East Nashville and Northwest also advanced to the semifinal round.
Players received a free Titans t-shirt, in addition to lunch. A trophy was presented to the winning team, and Brentwood Academy receiver Camron Johnson received a game ball after being named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Maurice Patton, who has covered high school sports in Nashville for over two decades, praised Corey and the Titans for the efforts with high school athletics.
"Obviously the high school community has known the Titans were here, but I don't think they've felt as embraced by the Titans as they have since Josh has gotten here,'' said Patton, now with Mopattonsports.com. "I think he has done a really good job of reaching out into the community with this event, and with the high school recruiting fair and the coaching clinic -- and Mike (Mularkey) was such a big part of that, pushing that. But most of it has started with Josh and I think he's done a great job.
The Tennessee Titans host their first 7-on-7 Passing Tournament for local high school athletes at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
"I think as a former high school coach, I think he has a really good feel for what these guys would like and he has done a good job of interacting with the community and getting them involved."
Oakland cruised to the title game with wins over Harpeth (30-0) and East Nashville (23-6). Brentwood Academy edged Wayne County (16-15) and then defeated Northwest (24-6) to reach the final.
Oakland senior quarterback Brendan Matthews threw three touchdown passes in the win over Brentwood Academy, to teammates Justice Dingle, Zarius Gamble and Shun Reed. Defensive back Bryce Camacho added to the scoring with an interception, and Quantez Parks scored on a conversion.
Oakland played without one of its top players, receiver JaCoby Stevens, in the finale after he suffered an ankle injury. The injury didn't appear to be serious. Brentwood Academy was quarterbacked in the tournament by Gavin Schoenwald.
Matthews said it was a fun day for Oakland, a team coming off a 12-2 finish in 2015.
"It is always good to play against someone else,'' Matthews said. "We didn't do as well as we wanted to, but back-to-back wins is good.
"We always love coming here. They treat us well, it's a good time, and we win."