One of the few remaining 7-on-7 passing tournaments will take place this weekend in Northwest Arkansas at Springdale (Ark.) Shiloh Christian.
The third annual Southwest Elite 7-on-7 Showcase will be held Friday and Saturday and feature 24 teams from five states at Champions Stadium. The tournament winner will be one of the eight regional qualifiers for the National Select 7-on-7 which will be held at Hoover (Ala.) High later in the month.
"We are very excited to be partnering with the Hoover 7-on-7," Shiloh Christian head coach Josh Floyd said. "We think that this will be a great event and we are looking forward to hosting the players and teams."
The teams appear to be top notch. Of the 24 participants, there will be three defending state champions and seven teams that have been ranked inside the RivalsHigh 100 within the last three seasons.
It will also feature the No. 1 high school football prospect in the country: Dorial Green-Beckham of Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest.
"Everyone is already talking about him," Floyd said. "I am excited to see him. I am not that excited to go against him, but from what I have heard, he is an exceptional player."
Green-Beckham is not the only star player headed to the event as he is just one of more than a dozen players ranked in the Rivals.com Top 250 for the Class of 2012 - including Barry Sanders and Sterling Shepard, both of Oklahoma City (Okla.) Heritage Hall, and Zac Brooks of Jonesboro (Ark.) High.
The pool play will begin on Friday at 2 p.m. and resumes at 8:30 a.m on Saturday. Following that, the tournament will be seeded and begin the knockout round at 12:30 on Saturday.
2011 Southwest Elite 7-on-7 Showcase Participants
Bastrop (La.) High
Four-star player Denzel Devall, listed in the Rivals.com database as a weakside defensive end, may make the trip to the event as he has said that he prefers to play linebacker and could work in some coverage in the summer season. The Rams have been one of the better teams in Louisiana this decade, compiling a 44-9 record over the last five years.
Bentonville (Ark.) High
Bentonville finished the 2010 season as the Arkansas Class 7A state champion and ranked No. 48 in the final RivalsHigh 100. This season, the expectations are the same with moderate roster turnover. Bentonville is the largest school in Arkansas; getting bodies on the field is not difficult.
Broken Arrow (Okla.) High
A team that was on the bubble of national rankings consideration in 2010 could, again, be among the better teams in Oklahoma. Despite the loss of quarterback Archie Bradley, there is a lot of talent at this school. Tight end Zac Veatch can be a dangerous weapon in passing leagues as it is quite hard for most linebackers to cover him.
Charleston (Ark.) High
Despite a disappointing 9-3 conclusion to the 2010 season, Charleston enters 2011 as the No. 1 team in Class 3A. The team is usually not loaded with Division I talent so there is no one guy to look to. It is a complete team that should contend with any in this event as size is not a factor.
El Dorado (Ark.) High
Back-to-back state titles in Class 6A set the expectation bar fairly high at El Dorado. This year, the team will need to replace quarterback Taylor Reed, who is now at Memphis. The team has averaged 12 wins each of the past three seasons.
Fayetteville (Ark.) High
Finishing as the Class 7A runner-up in 2010 was a solid campaign for Fayetteville. The team flirted with the RivalsHigh 100 several weeks but was unable to break into the nation's elite. The team will be replacing four-star quarterback Brandon Allen with his brother Austin, who is only a junior. A talented cast also returns to push this team for a title.
Hot Springs (Ark.) Lakeside
Lakeside could be a team on the rise but a tough one to predict. After a one-win season in 2009, the team piled up a 7-4 record in 2010. It returns 16 starters so there could be strength in numbers, but with the quick turnaround, it lost the element of surprise.
Jonesboro (Ark.) High
Returning nine starters on the offensive side of the ball makes this an explosive team for a passing league - and potentially the regular season. It will be a challenge for anyone to slow the tandem of quarterback Moe Malugen and four-star Clemson commit Zac Brooks.
Little Rock (Ark.) Arkansas Baptist
A relatively low-profile team, it set a school record with nine regular-season wins in 2010 and returns 17 starters from that squad. In 2010, the offense averaged nearly 42 points per game. Moving the ball through the air should not be a problem this weekend. Confidence has to be high for the Class 3A team, which will set the bar higher, including a playoff victory or two.
Mayflower (Ark.) High
Mayflower is one of the few teams in the event with tempered optimism. After going 10-2 in 2008, the team has drifted back to 5-6 and then 3-8 last season. The team struggled defensively in 2010, giving up nearly 42 points per game, so this will be a strong early indicator.
McAlester (Okla.) High
This team has won 10 games in back-to-back seasons and will have three players that are tough to cover with Tulsa commit Adam Boyd, Cody Lefors, and Alvery Braxton. Boyd likely will play both sides of the ball as he did much of last year as a safety and all-purpose player on offense.
Midwest City (Okla.) High
One of the best teams in Oklahoma over the last five seasons, Midwest City has piled up a 43-6 record and ended 2010 with another 10-win season. This year, it could be another very good season with three-star running back James Flanders and a trio of players in the secondary, Ronnie Davis, Ricky Reeves and Zeke Lewis.
Mountain Home (Ark.) High
It could be a good or a bad thing that Mountain Home is returning 14 starters from its 2010 season. Experience is invaluable in football, but experiencing a 1-9 season is a hard pill to swallow. There is optimism with this team but it is limited.
Oklahoma City (Okla.) Heritage Hall
There will be plenty of fans following around Heritage Hall at the event this weekend as a pair of four-star NFL sons will be on display for the defending Oklahoma state champions. Barry Sanders, son of Barry Sanders, and Sterling Shepard, son of Derrick Shepard, both star on the offensive side of the ball for the Oklahoma City-based school.
Olive Branch (Miss.) High
Olive Branch, the defending Southwest Elite Champion, is always a tough out in summer events. This season should be no different with much of last year's offense returning, including quarterback Todd Mays and leading receiver, three-star D'Arthur Cowan.
Paragould (Ark.) Greene County Tech
For all the turnarounds, the story at Greene County Tech could be one of the best as the team went winless in both 2006 and 2007 but has bounced back with 17 wins in the last three years. It could be poised to be more than a first-round bounce in the playoffs.
Rogers (Ark.) Rogers Heritage
A school in only its fourth football season is tough to predict. If recent history is an indicator, it should be a solid season as the school has bounced from 3-7 in 2008, to 9-3 in 2009, and 4-7 last year.
Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist
One of the highest-scoring teams in the field will return more than half of its offensive starters from its 11-2 team in 2010. Averaging 45 points per game and making a run into the Louisiana playoffs brings confidence that the team can parlay into a strong showing at this event.
Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber
Har-Ber was among the preseason favorites in Arkansas in 2010 and spent several weeks bouncing in and out of the RivalsHigh 100. This year, the team lost a lot of talent but has some depth that could keep it competitive. Har-Ber has shown well in other passing league tournaments and this could be another good event.
Springdale (Ark.) High
Long gone are the days of Springdale ruling Northwest Arkansas; this once-proud program may actually be the No. 3 team in the city limits. Running back Tony Dennis played well in this event last year, as well as during the season, and could show well again this season.
Springdale (Ark.) Shiloh Christian
The host school for the event will have a lot of fresh faces this season after graduating one of the best classes in the history of Arkansas football. Turning over both receivers, top running back and its quarterback from last year, this could be a total rebuild year.
Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest
Having the No. 1 player in the nation will make this team fun to watch. It finished the 2010 campaign at 7-4 and has higher hopes for this season. If someone is brave enough to leave Green-Beckham in man coverage, it will be a hard lesson in humility for the cornerback.
Stillwater (Okla.) High
Following a 1-9 season, hope is renewed as former Shiloh Christian defensive coordinator Tucker Barnard is taking over the program. He has plenty of offensive weapons at his disposal with quarterback Jerame Littell, receiver Jesse Vester and running back Davion Carter still in the fold.
Tulsa (Okla.) Victory Christian
Victory Christian has not had a winning record on the field since 2007, and without much returning talent, the 2011 season could wind up like many in the past. A winless 2009 was improved with a 5-6 season in 2010, but expecting much more could be hard to see.