Sport

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Players perform at Nextlevelz event

35 take part in 7v7 event Saturday at East Manatee Bulldogs field

LAKEWOOD RANCH

Starving for action and limited to home or more recently 1-hour workouts with their respective teams, a total of 60 football players converged at different times at the East Manatee Bulldogs football field to take part in instruction and competition as part of a Nextlevelz event.

The 25 middle school players received instruction from nine area coaches from 8 to 10 a.m. before the 35 high schoolers took the field for drills and a 7v7 tournament from 10 a.m. to noon.

After a series of warmups, the 35 were broken into four groups – gray, black, maroon and gold – and competed in 7v7 competition with three games in pool play and a playoff tournament won in sudden death by the gold on a touchdown catch by JR Rosenberg from Jake Sanders.

A number of area high school football players competed in the @Next_level_z 7v7 event Saturday in Lakewood Ranch. @htpreps pic.twitter.com/wBurNvrGf1

— Dennis Maffezzoli (@maffsports) June 28, 2020

Jaleel Duncan, a rising junior wide receiver/defensive back at Lakewood Ranch High, was named the MVP of the tournament.

“First time I’ve been out here in a while,” Duncan said. “I wanted to work on my craft, get more conditioning and stay fit.”

While running, lifting weights and doing pushups on his own during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Duncan was happy to face competition on both sides of the ball.

With his favorite spot at receiver, his goal is to reach 1,500 all-purpose yards and help the Mustangs improve on their 6-3 record a year ago and reach the playoffs.

JoJo Carter received the defensive MVP award. The 5-foot-5 defensive back, a rising senior at Braden River High, was pleased to face top-notch competition.

“Since the quarantine, I just wanted to come out and practice my coverage, get ready for high school. We face some pretty good teams this year,” Carter said.

Last year for Coach Curt Bradley’s Pirates, he compiled 24 total tackles, had an interception and defended six passes.

“I’m prepared and ready for whoever I have to guard, no matter how tall, how small, how fast, I’m ready,” said Carter, who hopes to get “at least two picks and eight pass deflections” this season.

Lakewood Ranch High rising junior Cam Madison goes through his pro-day workout at the @Next_level_z event Saturday at East Manatee Bulldogs field in Lakewood Ranch. @RanchLakewood @MustangFootball @LRTDClub @htpreps pic.twitter.com/amfKaO9aqa

— Dennis Maffezzoli (@maffsports) June 29, 2020

Following the 7v7 competition, quarterback Cam Madison, a rising junior at Lakewood Ranch High, had a pro-day workout that will be sent to college scouts.

After a dynamic warmup, Madison threw hitch passes, to running backs in the flat, slants, running back swing passes, skinny posts, curls, running back screens, dig, sail, seam, deep cover, sluggo-seam and corner routes among others under the watchful eye of former Palmetto High and current college quarterback Jack Allison, one of the instructors at the camp.

“It’s a great opportunity to get out here with kids from other schools and make some friendships beyond Lakewood Ranch,” Madison said. “Really with things starting to open back up, it’s good to get out here and get live reps against defenses.”

Adding 20 pounds and growing two inches since the pandemic hit in the middle of March, the 6-2, 195-pound Madison also has been throwing to his teammates and others during quarantine.

“I’ve been throwing a lot and perfecting my craft to get ready for this year,” he said.

Madison competed 49-for-107 for 535 yards and eight touchdowns in seven games for the Mustangs a year ago. He also ran for a score.

“Hopefully do better than last year, beat a district opponent and make the playoffs and get some offers,” Madison said. “That’s what I’ve been working for.”

A number of area high school football players competed in the @Next_level_z 7v7 event Saturday in Lakewood Ranch. @htpreps pic.twitter.com/dWVysuJ8rd

— Dennis Maffezzoli (@maffsports) June 29, 2020

Nextlevelz owner James Abelson hopes to get Madison’s film out to more than 20 college coaches on all levels, since in-person scouting has been suspended because of the pandemic.

It was the 10th event Abelson has run locally during the past two years.

A coach with the East Manatee Bulldogs Pop Warner Association, USA Football and a former assistant at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal under Tod Creneti, Abelson hopes to operate more developmental- and instructional-based events with multiple fields at more than one location in the future. The pandemic limited the number of participants Saturday.

Other coaches providing instruction were former Michigan State defensive back Jermaine Edmondson, Braden River High’s Ed Brown, Frank Post and Matt Arcadia, Bradenton Christian School’s John Johnson, Scott Paravicini and Elton Strawderman and Out-of-Door Academy new head coach KB Belton, along with Allison, who played at West Virginia and transferred to West Liberty University.



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