They’re ranked 19th in the country. Other schools’ best players are migrating to play for them. The best colleges in the nation are keeping close watch on most of the players, and everyone’s getting top-tier offers. This past weekend, the Mainland Buccaneers took their talents to Ocala to compete in the third-annual Neo Athletics 7v7 Summer Showdown, and they returned to Volusia County as the champions.
“Right when Mainland stepped off the bus, they looked like they were on a mission and about business,” said John Ivory, one of the owners of the tournament. “There were other teams that looked good out there, but no one looked like Mainland.”
The Buccaneers stormed through their competition and finished off Lake Weir 32-14 to win it all.
“I felt like winning that 7v7 tournament was a great stepping stone heading into the season,” said Randy Baker, Mainland’s top receiver.
Star quarterback Denzel Houston and Jachai Polite took offensive and defensive MVP honors, and running back Adrian Killins, who was ranked as the sixth best prospect at the event, according to XOS Digital recruiting specialist Dwight Thomas, made the All-Tournament team, along with Cyrus Fagan.
Although they didn’t play, Mainland’s offensive linemen turned heads during the Linemen Challenge.
Highly recruited Marcus Tatum won the one-on-one pass protection and power ball competitions, and, at least one offensive lineman finished in the Top 3 in every event.
Other standout linemen, according to Ivory, were Kevin McCrary, Daniel Kelly, Demarco Terry and Twishawn Glenn.
“The line on both sides of the ball at Mainland was the most impressive part of their team,” Ivory added. “Not many teams are fortunate to have that kind of depth. You can have all the talent in the world outside the hashes, but, if you don’t have what it takes to win in the trenches, you don’t stand a chance to win a state championship. Mainland has what it takes.”
Mainland seems to have no weakness but strengths in every area. So, what does that mean for the team that has come up short every year against Miami Central? Is this the year the Bucs will finally get championship No. 2? Only time will tell. The dawn of the new season is closely approaching.