INDIANAPOLIS — The Horizon Hawks were one of 32 teams nationwide to earn a trip to Indianapolis for the 2012 High School Player Development 7-on-7 National Tournament hosted by the NFL and National Guard. Each NFL market was represented, and the Horizon Hawks earned their trip by winning the 2012 Broncos High School 7-on-7 regional tournament in June.
Horizon’s 7-on-7 journey started at All City Stadium at Denver South High School in the second annual Broncos High School 7-on-7 Tournament. The Hawks went 3-0 in pool play and earned a spot in championship Saturday held at the Broncos Training Facility on June 23. Horizon went 4-0 at Dove Valley defeating Eaglecrest, Montbello, Fairview and then Fossil Ridge in the tournament final.
The Hawks, led by Head Coach Frank Ybarra and Offensive Coordinator Gregg Sumey, arrived in Indianapolis on Thursday, July 12 for orientation where each player received cleats, Broncos-branded home and away jerseys, shorts, sweatshirts and a backpack – all provided by NIKE.
“We weren’t sure what to expect going into the tournament but I expected us to be competitive in every game we played,” Ybarra said. “I wanted to show all the teams from around the country that we belonged.”
Play began on Friday, July 13 at the Colts’ Training Facility where each team played five games of pool play. The Hawks were matched up against the AFC West and NFC West and opened up against the Kansas City Chiefs. In a tight game throughout, the Hawks defense landed a second-half interception to help propel them to an opening game victory over Kansas City, 31-28.
The Hawks continued to build momentum throughout the morning by defeating San Diego 34-24 and Oakland 31-14. 3-0 against the AFC West, Horizon’s next two opponents would come from the NFC West. The Hawks jumped all over Seattle winning 34-0, but was clipped by Arizona in the final seconds 27-24 to conclude day one.
Later that evening, all 32 teams took a tour of Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, where players got to see the home team’s locker room and take a walk on the playing surface. Players also had the chance to visit the NCAA Hall of Champions located in downtown Indianapolis.
The second day of play included the final two games of pool play followed by a single-elimination tournament. The Hawks were edged out by St. Louis on a last-second touchdown to start the day but quickly bounced back against San Francisco winning 28-24.
5-2 in pool play, Horizon would be seeded number one in the AFC West and would have to win two more games within the division to make the final eight. The Hawks opened elimination play against San Diego where they would get a last-second interception in the end zone to secure the win over the Chargers. The Raiders also advanced to play Horizon in the round of 16, but the Hawks controlled the game from the start and defeated Oakland 28-10.
In the round of eight, Horizon would be matched up against the AFC North winner, Cincinnati. The Hawks jumped out to an early 17-7 lead but a successful Hail Mary pass before the half cut the lead to 17-14. The Hawks battled in the second half but would fall to the Bengals 28-24.
“We performed better than I expected when it was all said and done,” Ybarra said. “Our players competed against some talented teams and our kids showed up and did their jobs.”
Quarterback Auston Stackhouse led the Hawks offense and kept opposing defensives off balance with his strong arm and accuracy. Wide receivers Dustin Rivas, Steve Sumey, Greg Gonzales and Jordan Gravage were popular targets throughout the tournament each making multiple touchdown catches in the high scoring offensive showcase.
Defensive backs Chad Reffel, Jordan Iacovetta and Dante Chand helped anchor the Hawks defensive backfield with Brandon Halperin, Gunnar Campbell, Chad David and Chance Callahan patrolling the middle of the field at the linebacker positions.
Throughout the tournament, the Hawks would win seven of ten games and went 5-0 within the AFC West division. Horizon was one of four actual high school teams to make the final eight, the other four teams being made up of all stars from their respective areas.
“This was a great experience for our team and hopefully our players understand the level of competition that exists throughout the country,” Ybarra said. “The 12 kids who were here with us this weekend can now take this experience back to help lead the 50 other players on our roster into the upcoming season.”
Congratulations to Horizon High School for a great showing at the 2012 HSPD 7-on-7 National Tournament. They represented their high school, Colorado and the Denver Broncos with class, heart and an outstanding competitive spirit. Best of luck in 2012.
Click here to view a photo gallery of the Hawks’ games in Indianapolis.
Tags: 7-on-7 Tournament