North hosts national passing tourney

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

As ambitious as North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire is with his challenging football schedule, his Touchdown Club is just as bold with its annual passing league tournament.

That event, the North Gwinnett National Select 7-on-7 Qualifier, is Thursday and Friday at Sugar Hill's Gary Pirkle Park, which will host 24 top teams battling for a spot in the upcoming national championships. North won the inaugural tourney in 2009, but finished as runner-up to Olive Branch (Miss.) last summer.

Both teams are in the field this week.

"It's an opportunity for these teams to play a bunch of different high-level teams in one day," tournament director Ken Manning said. "In the fall season, you might see only two or three high-level teams all season. They'll do that by midday in this tournament."

The field is strong as usual and features Gwinnett teams North, Grayson, Mountain View, Central Gwinnett, Norcross and Dacula. Other Georgia teams in the tourney include North Hall, Alpharetta, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Tift County, Etowah and Chattahoochee. Olive Branch is joined by Byrnes (S.C.) and Hillcrest (S.C.) among the out-of-state participants.

"The kids really want to come to this one because whoever wins this goes to nationals," Manning said. "It's very competitive."

Fans who can't watch the event in person can see it live or on a delayed Web broadcast for the first time at www.ng7on7.com.