Charles Henderson competes in Troy 7-on-7

Published 9:18 am Friday, June 9, 2023

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The Charles Henderson Trojans battled in the Troy University 7-on-7 Tournament on Thursday against teams from across the Southeast.

Joining Charles Henderson at the 7-on-7 competition were Navarre (Fla.), Spain Park, Beauregard, Jackson, Gardendale, LeFlore, Ben Russell, Carroll, Thomas County-Central (Ga.), Vanguard (Fla.), Auburn, Carver-Columbus (Ga.), Murphy, Lee-Montgomery, Leesburg (Fla.), Gadsden County (Fla.), Wetumpka, Montgomery-Catholic, Wenonah, Sidney Lanier, Jeff Davis and Billingsley.

CHHS started off the competition 3-0 in pool play, defeating Class 6A Wetumpka – coached by former Troy standout Bear Woods – and Gardendale along with earning a win over 7A Jeff Davis. Due to the undefeated record, Charles Henderson went into the first round of elimination play as the No. 3 seed, facing off against Carver-Columbus and eventually dropping that game 42-36.

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“The first three games I feel like we competed very well,” Charles Henderson coach Quinn Hambrite said. “Defensively, we got off to a rough start. We have some guys in some places that they haven’t been before. This is our first week of (summer) practices and it’s hard to get everyone in place and in the right position so quick.

“I think our effort, for the most part, was there for those first three games. In the first round, we didn’t do what we’re supposed to do defensively but the offense did very well and kept us in the game.”

Teams not only had to compete with each other in the tournament but also had to contend with the sweltering heat. Additionally, Charles Henderson had to deal with a four-hour layover between pool play and the elimination round to begin. A scheduling mix-up saw Sidney Lanier – who was scheduled to play Charles Henderson in the final pool play game – leave early, leaving the Trojans without an opponent between noon and 3 p.m.

“There’s no excuse but it was hard after that,” Hambrite admitted. “As coaches, we know its hard for the kids after you just played three games in that heat and then had to sit down for four hours and eat and all of that and then expect to warm your bodies back up to play another game. I think that played a factor in it. I think if we had played at 12 we would have been able to adjust better to the timing.”

Class 4A’s Montgomery-Catholic went on to defeat Class 7A’s Auburn in the championship game of the 7-on-7 tournament. Montgomery-Catholic went 8-0 during 7-on-7 competition during the day.

The 7-on-7 in Troy is just the start of a busy summer for CHHS as the Trojans look to build on a state runner-up finish in 2022. Charles Henderson has another 7-on-7 Tournament to compete in on the campus of Alabama State – a tournament CHHS won last summer – along with organized team activities (OTAs) in Auburn, Montgomery and Troy throughout the summer.

“It’s cliché but (the goal) is to get better at what we do this summer,” Hambrite flatly said. “We have guys who haven’t solidified themselves at certain spots and they’re sort of on a rollercoaster right now. They play great and then they play not so great.

“We have to develop some consistency defensively on the back end to be successful. I don’t think our front end will have an issue with that. We have all the starters coming back on the defensive line. We’re also just trying to get strong and faster and learn our craft and learn the game of football. The guys that are stepping up in those spots have to learn what they are supposed to do in certain areas of the field and have to have some football awareness when they’re out there.”

Another thing the Charles Henderson coaches are emphasizing, is effort.

“The mental aspect is also big, being tough and physical and being able to compete on every play,” Hambrite said. “That’s my biggest goal, whether we win or lose. I can deal with you giving maximum effort and competing on every single play win, lose or draw. What I can’t deal with is minimal effort, that’s a big pet peeve of mine.”