Out of 29 teams, the Buccaneers were the last ones standing.
Mainland competed in the annual Sling and Shoot 7-on-7 camp on June 9-10 at the University of South Florida. Head coach Scott Wilson said it was one of the Buccaneers’ weakest performances at the camp ever.
But after rising junior Ra’Mello Dotson swatted a deep heave by Vero Beach in the dying seconds of the University of Central Florida’s 7-on-7 title game, the Buccaneers were the last team standing, holding on to defeat the Fighting Indians 19-15 on Saturday, June 16, at UCF’s Spectrum Stadium.
“It was good to be humbled,” Wilson said after the USF camp. “We really grew together as a group."
Wilson pointed to the team’s strict off-season conditioning as the primary reason for Mainland’s success at UCF. The Buccaneers work out from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, every week during the summer.
The pain and sweat the team has endured is starting to pay off, he said.
“It takes a lot out here. I mean, you see guys falling out left and right. But we’re in really good shape,” Wilson said. “They stayed together and communicated — the coaches and the players. You’re at the hottest point of the day and you’ve been playing football all day long. To be able to come out here and concentrate and do the right things takes a lot.”
The Buccaneers had several players stand out in each game on Saturday. Taron Keith, who will start at quarterback for his first time come the fall, didn’t throw an interception for the entire camp. Defensive back K.J. Brathwaite made a leaping sideline interception to preserve Mainland’s 14-6 lead against Lake Mary. And running back D’Andre McMillan used improved hands and crafty route running to get open for several touchdowns.
But none stood out more than rising senior receiver Andrew Plummer.
Plummer, who announced his commitment to USF on June 10, starred at both offense and defense for the Buccaneers, scoring a touchdown in all eight games, including an athletic grab over a Vero Beach defender in the championship game.
Plummer handed the ball to the defender and gave him a pat on the back after the score.
“I love it, man. I love embarrassing my opponent,” he said. “I feel like we deserved this. We worked hard for this.”