High school football: Sanford-Seminole dominates, wins 7-on-7 state championship

THE VILLAGES — After coming up short in its quest for the Florida High School 7v7 Association state championship crown last June, Sanford-Seminole left no doubt who is the king in 2022.

The Seminoles jumped out to a 17-0 lead on St. Augustine and went on to win 24-14 on Saturday afternoon at the The Villages Polo Club.

Seminole, which lost to Ocala Vanguard in the championship game in 2021, won four of its five knockout games by double digits. All but two of those games were played with star wide receiver Darren "Goldie" Lawrence (Florida State commit), who has been battling a tweaked hamstring.

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"It feels good to finish the deal; last year we fell short in the championship game," Seminole coach Eric Lodge said. "Anytime you win it's a good feeling. All this is to get better for the fall and I think we made good strides toward that."

Florida Atlantic commit Luke Rucker stars in tournament

Seminole High School Seminoles’ Luke Rucker throws a pass at the Florida High School 7v7 Association state championship in The Villages on Friday, June 24, 2022.
Seminole High School Seminoles’ Luke Rucker throws a pass at the Florida High School 7v7 Association state championship in The Villages on Friday, June 24, 2022.

Seminole senior quarterback Luke Rucker, who committed to Florida Atlantic two weeks ago, was outstanding throughout the two-day tournament. Rucker has good size (6-foot-2, 190 pounds), possesses a strong arm and throws with good anticipation.

"He's an elite arm talent," Lodge said. "He's doing really well on his reads — reading coverages and understanding where he needs to go with the ball. I think that's where he's taking his next steps."

St. Augustine won several close games to reach the championship game. The Yellow Jackets won their four knockout games by an average of 2.75 points. That includes a 25-19 win against Vanguard in the semifinals when the Yellow Jackets scored the game-winner with just one second remaining in the game.

The two-day tournament featured more than 42 teams (a handful of squads left when lightning and heavy rains wiped out Friday's afternoon games) and several of the top recruits in the state.

In addition to Rucker, here are a handful of the top senior recruits who stood out Friday and Saturday.

Bryson Rodgers (Wiregrass Ranch WR)

The Ohio State commit and No. 53 overall player on the USA Today Florida Network top 100 arguably was the most dominant player at the tournament. The 6-foot-2 target was almost impossible to defend and routinely got open for easy scores. Rodgers was tracked at 21.36 miles per hour Friday by Catapult Sports.

Tyree Patterson (Eustis WR)

The Florida commit (No. 93 top 100) was a relative unknown a few months ago but continues to show why he's a Power 5 receiver. Patterson, who was tracked at over 19 mph by Catapult on Friday, has the size to play outside, runs well and is explosive in his cuts.

Randy Pittman (Mosley TE)

Pittman (No. 73 top 100) runs and moves incredibly well for a 6-foot-2, 230-pounder. His moves are smooth and he is an absolute nightmare for defensive backs when he's in the open field. Pittman recently decommitted from Florida State.

Jason Duclona (Estero ATH)

Duclona, who committed to Rutgers earlier this month) made an immediate statement Saturday. He caught a touchdown on one play, then turned around and had an interception. Duclona caught several long balls — including a one-handed grab in the end zone that was wiped out because the quarterback didn't throw the ball before the whistle.

Jordan Castell (West Orange DB)

Castell (No. 67 top 100) has the length (6-foot-2) and speed to frustrate wide receivers, which is why very few balls were thrown in his direction on Friday. Castell announced a top three of Alabama, Florida and Tennessee on Friday night.

Amari Ferrell (Columbia S)

Ferrell (No. 94 top 100) is a prototypical safety with his range, speed and instincts. Ferrell, who has several Power 5 offers, breaks on the ball well and was one of the top safeties during the tournament.

Eugene Wilson III (Gaither ATH)

Wilson (No. 50 top 100) didn't play Friday because of a nagging injury but he showed Saturday why he's coveted by several of the top colleges in the nation. The 5-foot-11 Wilson has outstanding speed, the ability to get open against any coverage and also comes downhill in a hurry. One opposing receiver caught a ball down the seam against Gaither and Wilson came down from his safety spot to tag him. Had the play been in pads, Wilson certainly would have had another major hit to add to his highlight reel.

This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: Florida football recruits star at state 7-on-7 championship