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The South used to have a points-based series that at least gave fans an idea of who was doing what. But in recent years, the single-championship model has taken hold, and leaves us with a chance to make some wild speculations based on rumor and innuendo.
Here’s what we can tell you about this region as the South Championships get ready to lift off in Daytona, Fla. (Note, we’re only talking about Men here. Only one women’s team showed any interest in qualifying for nationals, so congratulations Southern Exposure!)
Charlotte qualified in 2010, losing in the Bowl Quarterfinals. That year they depended too much on one or two experienced players. This year, they still have some experience – Jacko Ah Hoy is central to their efforts in this regard – but they also have some younger talent, such as former Tennessee standout Sam Anderson, Bobby Allen, who led the 7s NASC in tries scored in 2011, Nick Evans, another South All-Star, and East Carolina player Justin Bourgeois is more than an everyman player.
So Charlotte has many of the pieces. They’ve got some playmakers, and some power guys. Whether they have an out-and-out finisher is the question.
Atlanta Old White has been a regular feature at the national championships. Last year they won the Bowl Consolation, which basically means they finished 11th out of 16, which is better than 12th or 13th. Ronn Omondi has Old White playing well, and he knows what the standard needs to be.
“I know our key to success will be less about worrying about what and who the other teams are, but more about playing and staying true to our game plan and what we have been practicing for the last two months,” said Omondi. Smart words, indeed.
Old White has been led by some strong work from Milwaukee transplant Jaime Gasparella, while
Caleb Tanui has had a breakout summer. In the forwards, Mike Aaron is
the anchor for a young group.
With that combination, Old White is still expected to be among the favorites.
Life University, New Orleans, Atlanta Renegades. None of these clubs are playing 7s this summer.
Daytona. The Florida club is a complete wild card. They have all sorts of talent and commitment, but can be unpredictable. They have added a huge number of players this June. Some, like speedy Perry Baker, Antonio Muniz, and South African Daniel Palmer have been with the club before. Others, such as Jeff Brill of New Orelans, and Tampa’s Billy Nelson and Daragh Carr, come from other clubs to play 7s. Joe Di Gregorio is one to watch, and so is Rod Ceasar, who has played with the team before.
The right combination could well see Daytona through. They have a lot of pace, and some big strong guys, too – Jeffrey Herron is one, and Muniz is another.
In the past, Daytona has, like Charlotte, relied on too few players. They have the depth now to beat you three or four different ways. In the end, it will all come down to chemistry.