VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State's high school passing tournament ended the same way it did last year -- with Charlton County celebrating on the North Campus intramurals field.
Charlton repeated as passing tournament champions, this time defeating Winter Springs (Fla.) 28-20 in the championship game.
Charlton, the Class AA state runner-up last year, became VSU's first repeat tournament champion, and did so with a different quarterback. Last year, it was senior standout Jeremy Privett. This year, it was sophomore Dwight Dasher.
Charlton got to the finals by going undefeated in its bracket, then by defeating Americus 33-23 in the semifinals. Winter Springs also went undefeated in its bracket, then defeated East Gadsden (Fla.) 30-22 in the semifinals.
"It was a good tournament. In one semifinal we had two Georgia schools -- Charlton County and Americus -- and in the other one, we had two Florida schools in Winter Springs and East Gadsden," said Valdosta State football coach Chris Hatcher, the tournament director.
There were 32 teams competing in the all-day tournament. Under the passing tournament format, teams can only pass the ball (no running). Touchdowns are worth six points, and teams can attempt extra point passes from either the five-yard line for one point or from the 10 for two points. A turnover-on-downs is worth one point for the defense, while an interception is worth three.
The best showing from a local school came from Brooks County. The Trojans, led by third-year starting quarterback Micah Edwards and receiver/safety Joseph Huewitt, went 4-1 in their five games, including victories over Americus and Macon Westside.
"We had a great time," Brooks head coach Ryan Branch said. "We felt good at the end. The defense played awfully well, and we threw the ball great. Micah looked good throwing the ball.
"We didn't change up our offense for this. We ran stuff we know how to run, and it worked well for us."
Valdosta High had mixed success. Both Wildcat teams went 2-2. Then again, wide open passing isn't exactly Wildcat football.
"We lost to a team that made the finals (Winter Springs), a team we shouldn't have lost to," Valdosta head coach Rick Darlington said. "We could have beaten Godby, too. But wins and losses aside, we threw and caught a whole lot better than we did last year. We moved the ball up and down the field all day.
"As far as defense goes, we will see seven wing-T teams on our schedule. We're not going to see this kind of offense (in the fall)... With the region we play in, this is fantasy football.
"It was good we went out there and competed. We saw some players who can do some things. We saw some players who looked a little shaky. "
Valdosta's varsity team lost its first two games, to eventual runner-up Winter Springs and Tallahassee Godby, but rebounded for victories over Hamilton and Thomasville Brookwood. Valdosta's second team, comprised of junior varsity and freshman players, defeated Brookwood and Haralson County but fell to Daytona Beach Seabreeze and Tallahassee Florida High.
The passing tournament gave Valdosta a chance to watch the competitors in a wide-open quarterback battle compete. Juniors Scott Shuman and Torris Williams, sophomore Javonte Anderson and freshman Michael Turner all took their share of snaps (senior Josh Hobdy is injured), each to mixed reviews.
"I thought all four of them did pretty good," Darlington said. "They all did some good things, and they all did some things that weren't so good. There will be some competition. We've got five guys competing for the job, and there's not a frontrunner."
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