LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - For the second year in a row, the Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Academy Bruins walked into the Shootout of the South 7-on-7 undefeated, and walked out undefeated.
The Bruins defeated the Texas Class 5A powerhouse Allen (Texas) High Eagles, 49-35, in the championship game of the tournament. Pulaski Academy also topped the Eagles last year in the tournament's title game.
The win made Pulaski Academy the first-ever back-to-back winner of the tournament as well as the first two-time winner.
The Bruins faced some of the top teams throughout the tournament, including Nashville (Ark.) High, El Dorado (Ark.) High, Fayetteville (Ark.) High and, ultimately, Allen.
"It took limited mistakes to beat a team like Allen," said Pulaski Academy head coach Kevin Kelley. "There are a lot of years they are competing for the Texas Class 5A state title, and we knew they would be gunning for us this year since we beat them last year in the finals, and it took us making very few mistakes and getting some stops on defense which in a tournament like this is tough to do. Our defense stepped up and our offense scored every time out, so it made it easier on our offense when the defense [stepped up]."
Pulaski Academy quarterback Fredi Knighten stood out throughout the camp. The Division I prospect made several amazing reads and passes in the championship game, relying heavily on rising junior tight end Hunter Henry.
"Hunter came back after our first drive and told me he was beating his guy off of the line," Knighten said. "He is a big target and an easy guy to get the ball to. We started running some plays to get the ball to him, and even on plays which were not designed to go to him, he was finding a way to get open. Having a guy like him who can get open against very talented defensive backs like Allen has sure makes my life and job a lot easier."
Due to his performance on the field, Knighten was also named the outstanding quarterback of the event.
"It means a lot after winning it last year," Knighten said. "Last year we had a three quarterback rotation, but this year it felt great to be out there for all of the snaps. My receivers did a great job, and made things easier for me."
Henry said the key to his role in the tournament win was getting physical with the Allen defenders.
"The Shootout of the South is one of the best tournaments in the south," Henry said. "Just being able to come out here and who what I've got is very important to me because it helps me prove myself to people. [Allen] was trying to be physical with us, so I started getting physical, and I was able to get some separation and make some plays. We were able to run a lot of post corners and get on the outside edge against them a lot, and that helped us get the win."
Oklahoma City (Okla.) Heritage Hall, led by four-star running back Barry Sanders Jr. and four-star wide receiver and Oklahoma commit Sterling Shepard won the Chenal Heights consolation bracket over the Greenbrier Panthers, led by Neal Burcham, 32-14.
Afton (Okla.) High defeated Muskogee (Okla.) Hilldale, 39-6, to take home the SportStop consolation bracket title.
Complete Baptist Health Shootout of the South Championship Bracket Scores
2:40 PM Games
Lake Hamilton 35 CAC 21
Allen 51 El Dorado 0
Pulaski Academy 33 Belton 27
Fayetteville 44 Rogers Heritage 35
3:20 PM Games
Allen 35 Lake Hamilton 33
Pulaski Academy 38 Fayetteville 20
2011 Shootout of the South Championship Game
Pulaski Academy 49 Allen 35
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