RAYMOND, Miss., - The Aberdeen Bulldogs left little doubt who the top team was at the third annual Magnolia Elite 7-on-7 State Championship held at Hinds Community College on Saturday.
The Bulldogs rolled though the event undefeated at 9-0 and taking out previously unbeaten Indianola Gentry in the championship game by 20 points.
"I'm not surprised that they won," said Demetric Warren of Magnolia Elite. "They were at my Super Delta Showcase in May and they were explosive that day and were explosive on Saturday. Their offense was absolutely on time and they had their timing down. They ran great routes and were a very, very disciplined bunch of kids. They are a respectful group of kids who had a competitive edge about them. Their coaching staff was great and did an outstanding job. The kids had to play back-to-back a lot and they only time I heard them complain was when they had to rest. They deserved to win and are my favorite to win the 3A State Championship."
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Aberdeen was led offensively by senior wide receiver Erik Buchanan. The 6-foot-2, 204-pounder was unstoppable hauling in everything within reach and opening things up for the other Bulldog receivers when double-teamed.
"The Buchanan kid from Aberdeen was very impressive," Warren said. "I thought that he was probably the most impressive kid at the camp."
Buchanan currently has only one scholarship offer from Louisiana-Monroe but is hearing from Southern Miss and Mississippi State as well.
Another Aberdeen player that shined was senior cornerback Jamerson Love. Love usually stars in the Bulldog backfield but showcased his talent on the defensive side of the ball and shut down receivers all day by either swatting away passes or picking them off to earn his team more points.
The dynamic 5-foot-11, 175-pounder has offers from Southern Miss and Arkansas State but is also receiving interest from Mississippi State.
Several other top prospects in the Magnolia State showed up at the event like Yazoo City three-star linebacker Taurice King, West Bolivar wide receiver Emmanuel Ford and West Bolivar linebacker Paul Medders.
"I really believe that Mississippi is one of the top states as far as talent is concerned," Warren said. "Mississippi is very competitive and Mississippi per capita has more people in the pros that anybody. That just speaks volumes right there. I think as far as high school football, Mississippi can rank right there with Florida, Alabama, Texas and California. Mississippi is right up there with them.
"The thing that we have to do is market our kids more and provide more opportunities to been seen on a national level. I think that has been an issue with our colleges as well. Ole Miss did a good job last year but our colleges have to compete better on a national stage in order for those kids to be in the spotlight. I think our high schools like South Panola and Olive Branch playing on ESPNU is a great thing to market and show America that our kids can play and our talent is just as deep as everybody else and can compete with anybody else."
16 teams were originally scheduled for the event but only Natchez, Pearl, Aberdeen, Jim Hill, West Boliver, Indianola Gentry, South Delta, Jefferson County and Yazoo City were the only teams that participated in the all day event.
It was the third consecutive year for the event. Ole Miss hosted the inaugural event in 2007 followed by Millsaps in 2008. Warren plans on improving and growing the event each year and has already started plans for next year's tournament.
"We are going to move it back to the last Saturday in June and we want to keep it in the central part of the state to give the teams in the south a chance to compete in it as well," Warren said. "We want to make it better every year but the biggest thing is to provide a competitive event for the kids to play in and give them some type of recognition. We want to put on a very competitive event every year and market it with people like Rivals to get these kids some exposure."