Dudley E. Dawson is a reporter for Hawgs Illustrated. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Prep standouts take the field this weekend
Fayetteville receiver Connor Flannigan makes a catch Saturday, June 15, 2019, during the Alma 7-on-7 Showcase football tournament at Citizens Bank Field in Alma.
One of my favorite work weekends of the summer arrives Friday and Saturday with the annual Southwest Elite Classic 7-on-7.
It’s a good time to check out the flavor of local high school teams. Usually, a few Razorback prospects are on hand at fields at Shiloh Christian, Springdale and Fayetteville high schools.
While it may not be 11-on-11 football, it serves a purpose, per Shiloh Christian head coach Jeff Conaway.
“I think 7-on-7 is an aspect of football and while it is not real football, it is piece of it that really helps in development and there is no way to really develop that unless you practice or play 7-of-7,” Conaway said. “And that is the throwing or catching, running routes and getting open and on defense, stopping people from getting open.
“Some coaches may not give 7-on-7 the credit it deserves, but I’ll repeat it, it is an aspect of football that helps a team develop and you can really get good at. You can get better on Friday nights in the fall by playing 7-on-7 in the summer.”
The field this year includes Arkansas teams from Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, Springdale Har-Ber, Fort Smith Northside, Shiloh Christian, Siloam Springs and Ozark.
Fort Smith Northside features junior athlete Dreyden Norwood (6-1, 175), a quarterback/defensive back who got an offer from the Razorbacks in February.
Rogers quarterback Hunter Loyd (6-4, 200), Fayetteville linebacker Quade Mosier and wide receiver Connor Flanigan (5-10, 175), Ozark tight end Bryant Burns (6-3, 220) and Springdale Harber’s JaJuan Boyd (5-11, 160) all have Division I offers.
Oklahoma powers Jenks, Owasso, Stillwater and Broken Arrow are all back. Broken Arrow won last year’s event and followed it with a state crown.
Owasso senior running back Isaiah Jacobs (5-10, 195) has visited Arkansas three times and has offers from the Razorbacks, Michigan, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Maryland and others.
Broken Arrow senior safety Myles Slusher (6-0, 181) has committed to Oregon after also getting offers from Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, USC and others.
Stillwater quarterback Gunnar Gundy (6-1, 190) is the son of Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy and has offers from Toledo and Eastern Michigan with interest from Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Cincinnati, Memphis, Arkansas State and others.
Other out-of-state squads scheduled to be on hand are Indiana’s Gibson Southern, Illinois’ Aurora Christian, Missouri’s Glendale, Kansas’ Derby and Mill Valley and Oklahoma schools Ada, Bishop Kelly, Choctaw, Tuttle, Heritage Hall, Bixby, Lincoln Christian and Rejoice Christian.
Action begins at 9 a.m. on both days.
“We feel good about it and feel like it is a really strong field this year,” Conaway said. “We feel like the teams coming in this year are very, very solid. We’ll have 27 teams that will play at three different sites — Shiloh, Springdale High and Fayetteville High. We play all of our pool play games on Friday and then bring everybody back to Shiloh campus on Saturday to start tournament play.”
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