By Matt Turer — firstname.lastname@example.org
Springfield, Mo. — They’ve been calling themselves Warcats in Carthage. After Thursday at Parkview, that sounds about right.
The Tigers rolled through the 2017 Parkview 7-on-7 Tournament in Springfield, finishing a perfect 8-0 and putting a cap on that perfection with a rare 7-on-7 shutout, blanking the Harrison Goblins in the championship.
“It feels good,” Carthage head coach Jon Guide said after beating Harrison (Ark.). “It was a great tournament. Kudos to Parkview for putting this stuff on. Good tournament. Good competition. I thought it was a very good day. Our kids competed very well, which is what you want to do in a situation like this.”
It’s still early in the summer workout process for most of the 24 participating teams, but for Carthage, early barely begins to paint a picture of how much (or little) football they’ve played since the end of the school year.
The Tigers attended a team camp at Pittsburg State two weeks ago and have just been lifting and conditioning since.
“We picked up a football for the first time since [Pitt State] and warmed up about 10 minutes before we played our first game [Thursday], so that says a lot about these guys,” Guide said. “They’re experienced kids and they understand scheme and what we’re trying to do. I thought we got better today.”
Carthage beat Mountain Grove in the semifinals after the Panthers made a deep run in the bracket portion of the tournament.
While a 7-on-7 tournament isn’t necessarily the best way to judge in-season success (Class 3 state champion Monett was winless in this tournament last season), it is a way for coaches to judge other aspects.
“It’s just competing. That’s the biggest thing,” Guide said. “How are your kids going to react when they score? How are you going to react when you don’t score? Did you make a mistake? Did you get beat on one? Did you drop a pass? How are you going to react to those situations and what’s your body language like. Those are the kind of things you can learn and develop in those guys.”
Carthage, which finished 2016 10-2, will see Zeke Sappington step in at quarterback this season after the graduation of Keith Guest. Clay Newman and Blake Schrader take backfield duties after losing Trey Collins. Sappington gets Arkell Smith back, the second-year wideout who quickly rose to local stardom last season.
Harrison finished the tournament 6-2, beating host Parkview and new Vikings coach Paul Hansen in the semifinals.
“We competed well,” Goblins head coach Joel Wells said. “To make it to the finals is a good accomplishment for us. Extremely proud of our guys and the way they competed. We’re pointed in the right direction for sure.”