Published 9:47 pm Thursday, July 17, 2014

Chipley players celebrate with the title trophy. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

Chipley players celebrate with the title trophy. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

Chipley takes Wiregrass 7-on-7 Championship trophy back home to the Sunshine State

In a day filled with offense, it was a pair of defensive stands that gave Chipley bragging rights.

The Tigers, from Chipley, Fla., bested Dothan in the finals of the Wiregrass 7-on-7 Championship Thursday afternoon, despite not scoring an offensive point.

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Chipley’s defense turned away the powerful Dothan offense twice inside the 2-yard line, netting four points. Chipley also intercepted a pass on the final play of the game to dash the late comeback hopes of Dothan.

“Last season we intercepted 16 balls,” said Chipley head coach Chip Harris, “We take a lot of pride in the play of defensive backs and linebackers. We work on our ball keys a lot and when it is in the air, the love to go and get it.”

Chipley bested a talented filed of teams to claim the top prize. Elba, Greenville, Daleville, Straughn, Andalusia and Ariton were among the teams to compete for the right to call themselves the best in the Wiregrass.

Chipley, a 1A school in Florida, topped 5A Greenville in the semi-finals and 7A Dothan in the championship round to take the trophy back to the panhandle.

“These kids right here never quit,” Harris said. “Time after time after time, we had to come up with big plays and they did it. We aren’t the biggest school here, but these guys are scrappy and they play extremely hard.”

Straughn eliminated Charles Henderson, the host of the tournament, in the first round of tournament play.

The early exit was not what head coach Brad McCoy was wanting, coming off the heels of a strong showing at the TurfWars 7-on-7 in Dalton, Ga. last week, but he said he will use the experience as a positive to teach the younger players.

“We played 10 games in Dalton, and had five guys getting treatment this week from getting banged up over there,” McCoy said. “We made the decision earlier this week to concentrate on our JV kids. We were able to get them some quality reps against some very good competition. It is hard to explain that to a 16-year-old kid. They see the wins and the losses. I would much rather them mess up now, than at the end of August.”