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June 17, 2011
Delaware team looking to compete at Southern event
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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
DUNCAN, S.C. - Even if the Dover (Del.) High team loses every game in the Palmetto State Showdown 7-on-7 event, the players and coaches will be fine with it.
They said as much.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for us," offensive coordinator Colin Thomas said. "I wouldn't care if we lost every game so long as we compete and get better."
Thomas will be acting as the decision-maker at the event since the Senators head coach, Carlton Brown, is unable to attend because of a prior commitment to coach an all-star event.
Coming off of a season with unrealized expectations, the urgency to get early work in is a priority for the staff.
Thomas, who said that he saw the event online last year, said he wanted to test his kids against some of the best competition he could.
"Honestly, I was reading about this tournament last summer on Rivals.com and made a call to find out about it," he said. "We throw the ball a lot and have a sophisticated offense so I think we can compete, but this will be a test."
For Dover, a team that went just 6-4 in 2010 and lost its best players to Florida (four-star offensive tackle Trip Thurman) and Connecticut (two-star quarterback-turned receiver Kamal Abrams), this trip could be more than a learning experience.
It may be culture shock.
"These teams may be a level above us," Thomas said. "I mean we don't see teams like [Duncan (S.C.)] Byrnes or [Durham (N.C.)] Hillside back at home; it will be a test."
The team's leader, tight end and safety Jordan Robinson, hopes that his teammates can use this experience to get ready.
"We are really young," he said. "I think this is a chance to see how good we are right now and see how hard we need to work to get better.
"It's the South. You know. These boys are way bigger than us."
Maybe, maybe not.
Robinson, just a junior, is a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder that his coaches labeled as one of the best players on the team.
Running routes alongside him will be 6-3, 190-pound Xavier Allen.
Allen, according to coaches, is being recruited by Delaware and some other schools.
And throwing the passes will be 6-3, 190-pound junior Ian Gory.
Gory is getting early looks from local Division III school Wesley College.
Despite perception, the talent may be there.
"I think we have the kids that can run with the other teams," Thomas said. "The thing I worry about is that our kids may be 5-foot-7 and running with guys that are 6-foot-4."
After several years of successful camps in the North - including events at West Virginia, Delaware, Wesley College and running its own passing league for five seasons - the team has decided to make the trip.
What the team didn't do was set itself up for immediate success.
"We don't have spring practice," special teams and running backs coach Larry Thomas (no relation) said. "So we just had our first 7-on-7 games last night before we headed down here."
The team has its state to blame for any preparation delays.
"We can't even start anything until the last spring state championship game is played," Larry Thomas said.
That last tournament concluded June 2 when the softball champion was crowned.
Whatever happens on the field over the next few days, Robinson is quick to point out can only help the team.
"This is big for us," he said. "We want to take something back home. We are ready for these games but it is a bonding trip. We bussed down and are staying in rooms with each other. We are going to be swimming and playing Madden, but we are going to learn what we can do together on the field, too."
With games against Byrnes, Hillside, Spartanburg (S.C.) High, Suwannee (Ga.) North Gwinnett, Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County and plenty of others, it could be a quick end to Southern hospitality.
Not that the players or coaches will care.