Clewiston Tigers to host 7-on-7 football tournament

CLEWISTON — Members from the Clewiston Tigers football program will compete in a 7-on-7 tournament against teams from 16 other schools around the state on June 22.

The tournament, which is free to all spectators, will be held in Clewiston at Sugarland Park and is sponsored by the H.E. Hill Foundation, U.S. Sugar and Nike. Clewiston Tiger assistant coach Jackie Garrett says the event came together out of discussions with himself and Clewiston Tigers head coach Pete Walker.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Clewiston Tigers
Members of the Clewiston Tigers football team participate in drills during a spring practice on April 24.

“Myself and coach Walker got together and talked about doing something for the community and the kids,” explained Garrett. “And we came up with this idea of hosting a 7-on-7 tournament. We invited 16 of the best teams from around Florida and we’re going to get them in here and compete. It’ll be good for the community to come out and watch. The kids are excited for it. We’re going to have a DJ there that day for the kids. It’s going to be a good event. We welcome anybody to come out and watch, from Pahokee to all around the lake.”

There will be shade for spectators at the event, but coach Garrett suggests bringing your own chair as there won’t be any bleachers on the field.

The Tigers are coming off a strong showing in another 7-on-7 tournament hosted at the University of Miami back on June 8.

Clewiston opened the event with three back-to-back wins and earned the number one seed in the tournament. The Tigers beat Royal Palm 24-7, then crushed Dunbar 32-0 before going on to win 28-14 against Miami Southridge.

It was an impressive feat for a young Clewiston squad that featured mainly freshmen and sophomores.

One of those freshman, quarterback Hakeem Holmes, has already impressed coach Garrett with his play. Garett says Holmes throws the football as well as anyone he has seen. Another young player, wide receiver Oran Singleton, has already drawn rave reviews from the University of Miami for his speed and route running.

But that youth and inexperience caught up with the Tigers when they faced Royal Palm in a rematch later in the tournament. Clewiston fell just short in that game, losing 26-23.

“We made some mistakes, we were young,” said Garrett. “We went in there with no expectations, but the kids came out there and competed and played hard. They performed well.”

Fans of the Tigers who come out to support them during the 7-on-7 tournament on June 22 can expect to get a small, albeit incomplete, glimpse of how the team may look in their upcoming football season.

In 7 on 7, football players don’t wear pads and there is no offensive or defensive line. Offensive players are considered down when they are touched below the neck by a defender. The game is a showcase for skill positions such as quarterback and wide receiver.

“We have a bunch of young kids that are going to be good football players,” concluded Garrett. “They are working hard this summer and getting better.”

The Clewiston Tiger 7-on-7 football tournament kicks off at 8 a.m. at Sugarland Park on June 22 and is scheduled to run until 3 p.m.

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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