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July 9, 2010
Hurricanes taking tournament by storm
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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
DUNCAN, S.C. - In a tournament with nationally ranked teams like Hoover (Ala.) High, Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic, and host team Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes, it is easy to fly under the radar.
Until, that is, you end pool play undefeated and knock off one of those teams - in this case Hoover - in the process.
"We played well and executed," Piedmont (S.C.) Wren head coach Jeff Tate said. "We had a great start to the tournament but we will need to play better when it really counts."
The Wren Hurricanes, who also won the recent Clemson University 7-on-7, are riding high.
And confidence is soaring.
"We expected to do this," senior quarterback Austin McCaskill said.
It is not just youthful exuberance talking.
Tate, a 31-year coaching veteran, agreed.
"We looked at our schedule and felt pretty good about our draw early," he said. "We have been playing against Greenville [(S.C.) High] all summer and knew what to expect. Woodruff [(S.C.) High] has some athletes but we felt good there. We didn't know much about [Lawndale (N.C.)] Burns since they are from North Carolina and we played good but not great against Hoover."
The confidence has come from the offensive unit and its ability to make plays when needed.
"Our offense and defense are both playing really well right now," McCaskill said. "I know the offense now and the receivers know their routes and I can check down whenever I want. We are playing good football."
The offense certainly is, scoring in bunches and doing it with explosive one-play drives as well as meticulous slice-and-dice efforts when needed.
The steady hand of McCaskill has led the way.
"We are really blessed to have an experienced, athletic quarterback," Tate said. "We have some really good wide receivers out there making plays but, for us, it all starts with the quarterback."
McCaskill, a 6-foot, 170-pound senior, is a three-year starter for the Hurricanes whose play has steadily improved each year.
As a sophomore starter, McCaskill threw for 2,600 yards and 20 touchdowns with 17 interceptions. The team ended the year 3-8 and then head coach Micky Moss was relieved of his duties.
His junior season was much better. He threw for 3,300 yards and 40 touchdowns with just six interceptions, a welcomed change for Wren as the team went 9-3 and won its region.
Now as a senior, and with the 7-on-7 circuit success, more is expected of the team and its quarterback.
"We won our region last year," Tate said. "We would like to duplicate that and improve on our playoff performance."
But Tate knows sometimes that is easier said then done.
"A lot of times success can be relative to your opponent," he said.
One thing is for sure. Much like a real hurricane, this team from Piedmont will not be sneaking up on anyone this year.