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Evan James leads TFA to championship at UCF 7-on-7 football

Immediately after Evan James caught a dramatic, desperation pass from quarterback Salomon Georges Jr. for a game-winning touchdown in the UCF 7-on-7 semifinals, someone in the crowd yelled, “Evan James, the best receiver in Orlando.”

That could be true.

People have certainly been sleeping on the senior receiver at The First Academy, but not his teammates. The standout pass catcher carried his team to the UCF championship — see photos here — Thursday in the Bounce House final, knocking off Rockledge, with James catching two more touchdown passes. James is ranked as the No. 10 player in the Sentinel’s 2025 Central Florida Super60.

Performances by James, Salomon, fellow receiver Demetrice McCray, as well as Isaac Obrokta, Aiden Hall and Dane Thompkins, among others, were key all day long, as TFA rolled through the UCF tourney.

“It felt good, just going out there and making plays and doing what I do,” James said afterward. “I was coming out here to win this championship and we got us the championship.”

James, like numerous other players on the current First Academy football roster, is a transfer. James was at Leesburg last year, but followed former Leesburg head coach and new TFA offensive coordinator Steven Moffett to TFA. The Royals are plenty happy he did. James showed off his skills Thursday and gave a preview of things to come for TFA, which has more than 20 transfer newcomers heading into this coming season.

James, Salomon, McCray and Hall all came to TFA from Leesburg, while Thompkins came over from Lake Minneola. Obrokta is the only player of those mentioned above who was at TFA a year ago. It’s been a complete overhaul.

Given that these players have only been practicing together for a little over a month, the championship at UCF is quite impressive.

“We like the fact that we are getting to know each other as a team, developing some chemistry, competing with each other and having a good time,” TFA coach Jeff Conaway said.

As the TFA players celebrated their victory on the field Thursday, Moffett yelled, “The Conaway, is the only way.” Conaway kind of shrugged off those sentiments, but the result was obvious.

“It’s good to see the guys respond,” Conaway said. “Anytime you get out here and you have some shared pain, and you go through the heat and the exhaustion, it’s fun to see the guys become more unified and lift each other up and respond to some adversity.”

The biggest challenge, other than the 98-degree heat, for the Royals was trailing by five points with the clock running down in their semifinal against West Boca. Salomon lofted what appeared to be a Hail Mary pass attempt into the end zone, but it was right on target to James, who leaped up and made an over-the-shoulder catch just inside the back of the end zone boundary to give TFA the 20-19 walk-off victory.

That’s what prompted the fan to yell out about James being the best receiver in Central Florida.

“Of course. I’m top of the top,” James said. “Everybody has their own opinions, but my work shows.”

UCF has three 7-on-7 tournaments planned during their summer camp series, with the next one taking place this coming Thursday, and the final one June 20.

Chris Hays can be found on X @OS_ChrisHays. He can be reached by email at chays@orlandosentinel.com.