LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The Pulaski Academy Bruins earned a victory in the 2014 Shootout of the South 7-on-7 in the final seconds of the championship game as Reed Rickenbach picked off a pass in the end zone, helping the Bruins defeat Fayetteville 30-28.
Both teams entered the championship game undefeated throughout the weekend. Additionally, the Bruins are 36-0, and have won every 7-on-7 tournament they have entered this summer. They have not lost a 7-on-7 game since the Shootout of the South last season.
Fayetteville tight end and Arkansas Razorback commit C.J. O'Grady was named wide receiver MVP. Pulaski Academy defensive back Justin Charette was named defensive MVP, while Tulsa commit and Pulaski Academy quarterback Will Hefley was named Top Gun Quarterback of the event.
Pulaski Academy head coach Kevin Kelley spoke about his team's win in the championship game.
"[Fayetteville] had given up a delay of game to run some clock and I had already thought of our next offensive play," said Kelley. "I was thinking about that and going for two because we were going for the win. The next thing I know, I look up and Reed Rickenbach is playing linebacker and he broke on the ball and made a play. It's funny because before the last series I asked who was going to make a play to help us win the game, and about five guys raised their hands. I'm just so proud."
The championship didn't come without a couple of gut checks for the Bruins. They had to come from behind against Greenbrier in the semifinal game just to make it to the finals.
"We talk about funneling all of this into the season," said Kelley. "We want to win everything we do and we want to compete because we want everyone to go away and think "P.A. is always good". So if we get the lead you can kind of get them to shut it down a little bit. The good thing about the last two games and getting behind is that we just have to keep fighting. It teaches us to fight back and it teaches us not to give up. It teaches us when we are tired and hot, and when you get down in a game like that it would be easy to shut down and say "okay, we've lost the game", but that fight is something I will take with us throughout the summer and into any game that we may be down in this season this year."
As noted, the Bruins are undefeated in 7-on-7 action this summer, and have won every tournament they have entered. Kelley spoke about the keys to being successful in the summer months are for his team.
"It's been key defensive stops," he said. "We get them at just the right times and it's been super consistent on offense. We've had a ton of tournament games. We are 36-0 in the whole summer in all that we have done, and we've had a ton of tournament games where we had to score every single possession and we've stopped the other team once. And we've had some where we faltered on offense and the defense had to make some plays. It has just kind of all come together and different guys have stood up and made the play when they've had to."
"That's been kind of the neat thing," Kelley continued. "We don't have a star. We don't have a [Arkansas tight end and former Bruins tight end] Hunter Henry anymore, and having everybody realize that they have to step up will make everyone play a little bit harder."
Pulaski Academy will take part in the Garrett Uekman 7-on-7 tournament in addition to another tournament in Memphis, Tennessee following the two week Arkansas Activities Association mandatory dead period.
PATH TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
ORTHOSURGEONS CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKET
2:00 PM GAMES
Lake Hamilton 27
Desoto Central 46
Pulaski Academy 40
2:40 PM GAMES
Desoto Central 29
Pulaski Academy 44
3:30 PM SHOOTOUT OF THE SOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Pulaski Academy 30
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