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Run-oriented Archer shines at passing tourney

SUGAR HILL -- Archer relied on a solid running game to reach the playoffs in 2011 and post the school's first winning record last year.

The Tigers showed they can throw the ball, too, at the National Select 7on7 regional qualifier at Gary Pirkle Park.

Behind the arm of quarterback Gabe Tiller, Archer went 5-1 during pool play on Thursday.

"We did some good things," Archer head coach Andy Dyer said.

The tournament resumes today with a double elimination bracket. Archer had the best record out of the eight teams from Gwinnett County.

Alpharetta and 2010 tournament champion Olive Branch (Miss.) were 6-0 in pool play.

Greater Atlanta Christian was 4-2, Grayson A and Shiloh were 3-3, Central Gwinnett and North A were 2-4. Grayson B was 3-4 and North B was 0-7.

The top two teams will advance to the National Select 7on7 Championships on July 24-26 in Hoover, Ala.

"We want to win the whole thing because we are competing in it," Dyer said.

Archer graduated its leading rushers the last two years in Sean Fowler and Ernest Alexander. Tiller returns at quarterback and has a nice group of skill players around him in tight end Connor Redmond and receivers K.J. Parmer and Kyle Davis.

Despite Archer's success at the passing tourney, don't expect the Tigers to scrap their run-oriented offense.

"We're going to be a run-first football team," Dyer said. "The run sets up the pass. You have to be able to run the ball in our region."

GAC light-years ahead of last year

Last summer was a transition process for head coach Tim Hardy and Greater Atlanta Christian. Hardy was in his first season at the Norcross private school and brought in a new offense and defense.

After a year on the job, Hardy can tell a difference in the program.

"We have come a long way," Hardy said. "We're different team from last year."

During Thursday's 7on7 passing tournament, Hardy could tell a difference in the in the defense's communication with each other. The offense has a better understanding of the system.

"We just want to come out and compete," Hardy said.

Rafe Chapple had a strong day at QB with the help of Darius Slayton, Chris Williams and Jack McGlaughlin at receiver.

"It starts with (Chapple)," Hardy said. "He has some nice weapons to go to."

Early handling defense for Shiloh

Wendell Early had no intentions of leaving St. Pius. But when he sat down to talk to Shiloh head coach Troy Hobbs, he considered a change.

Early was the secondary coach on St. Pius' Class AAA state runner-up team last year and is now the defensive coordinator at Shiloh.

"I really had no plans to change," Early said at Thursday's 7on7 tournament.

Early coached at Berkmar from 2003-07, leading the Patriots to the playoffs in 2004 and 2005.

For the last three years he's been a teacher at Shiloh, making an 80-mile round-trip commute from his home in Lawrenceville to Shiloh and then to St. Pius.

While at St. Pius he tutored under head coach Paul Standard and defensive coordinator Jerry Stewart. Early has brought the same 4-3 base defense to Shiloh with hopes of similar success.

"We're running the same defense as we did at St. Pius," Early said. "I learned a lot from Jerry."

Central breaking in new QB

For the last three years, Central Gwinnett head coach Todd Wofford hasn't had to worry about the quarterback position.

Eman Westmoreland was the guy for the Black Knights as a three-year starter.

With Westmoreland graduated, Central is breaking in a new QB in Union Grove transfer Eric Forrest.

"It's a process. I'm putting a lot of pressure on him right now," Wofford said. "He's been doing it for a few weeks. The more pressure I put on him now, it will make it easier in the fall in Region 8 play."

One thing that has made Forrest's job easier is a veteran group of receivers around him.

Adam Riley and Nate Hartford, who played key roles last year, have been the biggest help.

"It's a veteran group of receivers playing around him," Wofford said. "They've been doing pretty good."

More teaching for Grayson staff

Grayson is back at the National Select 7on7 tournament after finishing runner-up a year ago.

But this time the Rams' coaching staff is having to do a lot more teaching on the field. Grayson had a senior-laden squad last season and returns just one starter on offense and defense.

"There's nothing like experience and getting out there and getting after it," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said.

Hunter Schuessler has taken the reins at QB and has a nice group of skill players around him. Aares McCall is the only returning starter, but Sam Hina, Nate Peters and A.J. Stinson.