On Saturday, June 21st the Indianapolis Colts held their first 7-on-7 Tournament of Champions. Twelve teams from schools around the state gathered at the Colts' Practice Facility to battle it out for $2,000 in grant money for their school's athletic program and a trip to New Orleans to compete in the 7-on-7 National Championship.
Lowell High School won the tournament 30-14 over Harding. Harding, the runner-up, will receive $1,000 for their athletic program.
Mike Prior, Youth Football Commissioner for the Colts, explained that this tournament was part of the effort to contribute to the development of young football players across the state of Indiana.
"We do a lot with youth and middle school students, but not a lot in the high schools," said Prior. "To have the high schoolers come down and play with others from around the state will be a cool experience."
The day's events involved more than a 7-on-7 tournament. Just as with the Junior Player Development program that the Youth Football department runs, players weren't only exposed to football.
Some of the character development modules that were introduced on Saturday included sportsmanship, responsibility, and decision-making.
According to Prior, an important part of High School Player Development is to "educate the student athletes that they can live after sports."
"To prepare themselves for sports, they need these life skills," he added.
The 7-on-7 tournament was initially planned as a local event. Then, the NFL approached the Colts regarding their nation-wide tournament. 16 teams from around the league, 8 from each conference, were chosen to be represented in the 7-on-7 National Championship in New Orleans July 10-13th.
The twelve Indiana high schools represented in the Colts' tournament were divided into three pools.
Pool A: Homestead, Cathedral, Evansville Reitz, Ft. Wayne Dwenger
Pool B: Arlington, Heritage Christian, Southport, Lowell
Pool C: Ft. Wayne Harding, Paoli, Rockville, Cardinal Ritter
Each team first played all the schools within their pool before beginning the single-elimination playoffs. At the end of the day Lowell beat Harding in the final game 30-14, becoming the Colts' champion and representative.
"Hopefully they'll go down to New Orleans and win the Super Bowl for us," Prior added.