MIAMI — A new wrinkle has been added to the Miami High School football summer routine: the Shootout of the South.
The passing tournament, sponsored by Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas, is considered to be one of the best of its kind because of the broad scope of teams.
The Wardogs are among 24 teams listed on the tournament website as planning to attend, including head coach Zach Gardner’s former school, Afton, and Stigler, where former MHS head coach Chris Risenhoover is entering his 10th season.
Oklahoma City Heritage Hall rounds out the Oklahoma schools on the that will be playing.
Other teams entered include defending champ Allen and Keller, Texas; Springfield (Missouri) Glendale, Turner County, Georgia; Olive Branch, Mississippi;
along with 15 Arkansas schools — Little Rock Catholic, Bryant, Rogers, Benton, Fountain Lake, Hot Springs Lakeside, Heber Springs, Maumelle, Monticello, Mena, Springdale, Searcy, Warren, England and host Pulaski.
Pulaski County has won the tournament six times and Allen is a two-time winner. Heritage Hall and Rogers each have won it once.
The Wardogs warmed up for the tournament by attending a team camp at Northeastern A&M last week.
“I really felt that Thursday and Friday we really put together two good days and had a lot of success,” Gardner said. “Everything was pretty positive. We hope it carries over to this week because we as a coaching staff were very pleased.”
Twelve schools were on hand at the NEO camp.
“I thought we got better as a team,” Gardner said. “It gave us a little preparation going into this week; not near the talent level that will compete as a whole (at Little Rock), but it did give us an opportunity to organize some things.”
The Wardogs hit the road Thursday.
Pool play starts at 11 a.m. Friday, June 15, then the action Saturday, June 16, will be bracket play.
Gardner plans on taking quite a few of the players on the roster as a team-building opportunity.
It will give the new-look coaching staff a chance to get to know the kids better.
The Shootout of the South was launched in 2005 in an attempt to stage the premier 7-on-7 tournament in the country. It’s also a showcase for some of the top prep talent.
Miami has been assigned to Pool A with Pulaski Gold, Turner, Springdale, Catholic, England and Maumelle.
The Wardogs’ schedule for Friday includes Pulaski Gold, 11:30; England, 1 p.m.; Turner, 2 p.m.; Maumelle, 3:30 p.m.; Catholic, 5 p.m. and Springdale, 6 p.m.
The Eagles will be in Pool D with Heritage Hall, Warren, Keller, Lakeside, Heber Springs and Pulaski Blue.
Their Friday schedule includes Pulaski Blue, 11 a.m.; Warren, 11:30 a.m.; Keller, 1 p.m.; Heber Springs, 2:30 p.m.; Lakeside, 4 p.m., and Heritage Hall, 5:30 p.m.