Changing the Community finally captured its first 7-on-7 title this weekend in North Bergen, New Jersey. CTC won seven out of eight games at the Pylon 7-on-7 Northeast Super Regional tournament. Pylon tournaments feature teams with the top college football recruits across the country. Most teams have several players with multiple Division I football offers.
The road to the crown wasn’t easy though. Changing the Community was the only team to advance to the final four round of the tournament who had no breaks in between any of their games. Coach Hopkins was visibly bothered by this during the tournament. “Our kids were a little winded” he said, “having no breaks and all. But I think it proves the effectiveness of our strength and conditioning program and shows the superb shape that our kids are in."
Each game leading up to the championship, CTC had to come from behind in order to advance to the next round. These impressive series of comebacks were highlighted by a victory in the semifinal round where CTC had to overcome a 19-point deficit. “It’s really a true testament to the resiliency of our kids and the belief that they have in their own abilities, said Raji El-Amin, CTC’s defensive coordinator. “It also shows the faith that they have in us as a coaching staff. No one panicked, we stuck with our game plan, and we came out with the victory. Thank goodness for the new offensive coordinator!" Coach El-Amin was referring to Changing the Community’s CEO Greg Hopkins’ first Pylon tournament as offensive coordinator. Their quick-strike, no huddle offense kept teams off-balance all weekend. This was no different in the final game of the tournament, where Todd Larocca connected on a 40-yard touchdown throw to Fardan Allen (Rush-Henrietta) with only 20 seconds remaining to tie the game at 19-19. Then, as time expired, CTC took the lead as Larocca found Andre Rivera (Greece Olympia) on the ensuing conversion to end the game 20-19.
Todd Larocca, who will be transferring to Bishop Kearney High School in the summer, won the overall tournament Most Valuable Player award. The defense was led by Jay’von Hampton from Eastridge High School, whose eight interceptions earned him the Pylon tournament Defensive MVP award. Fardan Allen was awarded the Offensive MVP. He caught 15 touchdowns, including the game-winner in the championship game. That was one shy of Myles McKinney’s CTC tournament record of 16 scores last year at the Rutgers University passing camp. CTC will be traveling to Youngstown State University for the Pylon Midwest Regional tournament later this month.
Pylon Football President Baron Flenory presenting CTC with the championship trophy