Canes encouraged despite bracket-play loss at 7-on-7

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A close loss in the first round of tournament play couldn’t dampen a good day for the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes last week at the Corky Kell 7-on-7 in Roswell.

“You don’t want to lose obviously, but we had a good day still,” Cartersville head coach Joey King said. “[We were] 4-1, we were the No. 1 seed going into the little deal. We had a long lunch break and then we had to sit two games because we had a bye, so we weren’t clicking on all cylinders when we started back out after lunch, and that’s kind of just how it goes sometimes in those things.”

With starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence back at the helm of the team, the Canes ran through the competition in the morning pool play segment, going 4-0 and earning a bye, but lost a double-overtime thriller, 37-36, to Archer in the first round of bracket play.

“Archer went on to play in the final, so looking back that could have been us,” King said. “It wasn’t, but I still thought we had a pretty productive day going 4-1.”

Lawrence got his first competitive action of the summer at the head of the Canes after missing the team’s first 7-on-7 tournament to attend the Elite 11 Finals in Los Angeles a few weeks ago.

Also returning was rising senior receiver E.J. Turner, who accompanied Lawrence to the Elite 11.

Neither missed a beat.

“That’s the first time that we’ve gone with Trevor and E.J. back, so I thought both of those guys looked really well,” King said. “E.J. was running all over the place. ... [Lawrence] made some big-time throws, really made some throws that I think only he can make. He threw an out route across the field one time and made a good decision on a back-shoulder ball in the end zone. He looks very polished right now.”

After winning the state championship for the second year in a row last season, the Canes are also breaking in some new starters, mostly on defense.

Summer ball is an opportunity to integrate the rookies into the system and see what they’re made of, and so far, the youngsters are coming along well for Cartersville.

King recognized rising junior Marcus Gary, who had one of the highlights of the tournament with a one-handed touchdown catch, as well as defensive backs Marko Dudley and Marquail Coaxum, who will be taking over in the secondary, one of the units where the Canes were hit hardest by departures.

“Defensively, we’re catching up, we’re making big strides,” King said. “We lost a lot of guys in the secondary and a couple guys underneath, and the guys that we have now have really made some strides and are catching up pretty quick.”

Summer 7-on-7 tournaments are valuable experience for not just the kids, but the entire team—especially when the games are as close as Cartersville’s loss to Archer.

“One thing I’ve always known about our kids is that they’re going to fight and they’re going to keep competing and I really thought we did that,” King said. “We fought hard and we competed well, even with our back against the wall a couple of times. I thought we stepped up and made a couple of plays, we just didn’t make enough of them, and that experience is definitely valuable.”

The Canes will play one more official 7-on-7 tournament this summer, next weekend at LakePoint, as well as possibly scrimmaging some other teams.

Cartersville will be the host for the LakePoint 7-on-7, which starts on Friday and carries into Saturday.