Speed on display at Gridiron Kings tourney


LAKE BUENA VISTA — The golden rule in the mother-son relationship was nearly broken by Karlos Williams over the weekend.

The Davenport Ridge safety was so consumed by his participation in the 2010 Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 tournament that he failed to get his mom a birthday present. The nation’s top safety, according to Rivals.com, said he didn’t have time to shop with all the festivities held in and around ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

The charming, witty 6-foot-2, 210-pound prospect made up for it by dedicating his Defensive MVP award to his mother after he grabbed three interceptions in Sunday’s tournament, including one that went 100 yards for a score in the Southeast’s 36-0 drubbing of the Southwest in the Gridiron Kings final.

“She deserves something like this, she’s a super mom,” said Williams, who is committed to Florida State. “She works at Disney, so I know she knows what these people went through with 64 of us. Sixty-four of me’s, that’s a lot. I know she went through something.”

Williams’ run for MVP was much tighter than most of the games the Southeast played, after going 4-0 Sunday. Williams battled long-time friend Ha’Sean Cliton-Dix (Orlando Dr. Phillips), an Alabama commit who also had three interceptions and a touchdown, for MVP honors. All while the Southeast, comprised of 12 of its 16 players from the state of Florida, didn’t allow a point after defeating the West 22-20 in its opener to grab its second consecutive championship in the tournament’s two-year history.

The Southeast made it look too easy as the defense totaled 12 interceptions, including three returned for scores. Quarterback Tony McNeal (Chester, S.C.), a Clemson commit and last-minute addition, powered the offense, taking advantage of his wealth of playmakers. His biggest threat was West Palm Beach Dwyer tight end Nick O’Leary, who nearly trucked any defender that attempted to tag him.

O’Leary finished with a handful of receptions and touchdowns on his way to Offensive MVP honors.

The final was well out of reach by half, with the Southeast leading 24-0, but both teams were forced to play the final 25-minute half. Williams added to the rout when picked off Southwest quarterback Michael Brewer (Austin, Texas, Lake Travis) at the goal line and returned it for the first score of the second half. On his way to the end zone, Williams flashed the ball to a charging Brewer at the 40-yard line.

“That was beautiful,” Williams said. “All I saw was open grass and pylons. The quarterback was on hot pursuit, but I knew I had him beat. I ate his angle up. I made it to State in the 100 for a reason. It was a straight-line shot and I got there before he got there.”

Teams struggled all day to keep up with the Southeast’s speed. The West came the closest by actually scoring, but the Southwest and Midwest had no answers. To many of the Southeast players, no one kept up.

“I’d rate it like Madden (video game). I’d say (the speed ratings were) 99 (Southeast) to 65,” Fort Lauderdale Saint Thomas Aquinas cornerback Marcus Roberson said.

Added USC commit and Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson linebacker Kent Turene: “There was no competition,” he said. “We’re the best in the world and we proved that every time we came out here. It’s back-to-back championships. It’s what we do.

“Their speed isn’t as fast as it is in Florida — everybody is fast in Florida. We see those guys and we’re like, ‘Wow, these guys are really slow.'”

Boasting aside, the Southeast players said they enjoyed playing with and against some of the best players in the country. Players didn’t let competition interfere with the bonds they created.

“It was a good experience,” Williams said. “After that first day, we got comfortable with everybody, starting chillin’ and working out with everybody. Everybody came together and gelled like one big football team, one big family.”