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March 31, 2013
ORLANDO - The state's best talent clearly lies in Miami.
After all three Miami-area teams - South Florida Fire, South Florida Express Elite and South Florida Express Pro - reached the Final Four of the NFA 7-on-7 Tournament in Orlando on March 30, it's easy to see how.
Of the Miami teams to make the semifinals, SF Fire ultimately won the Central Florida 7-on-7 Tournament, as they blew past South Florida Express Pro in a convincing 30-8 victory in the final.
Fire WR Odis Grimes (Miami Northwestern 2014 prospect) hauled in two touchdown catches that proved to give his team more points than SF Express Pro had the entire game.
"Odis is a big, solid receiver who knows how to use his body well," said South Florida Express Pro coach Ty Conyers, who helped lead his team to a victory over River City Kings (Jacksonville) in the NFA 7-on-7 semifinals.
"He has great hands and caught all the balls that were thrown to him against us. He showed that he's one of the best receivers in South Florida."
The 6'4", 200 lb. wideout wasn't the only standout in the title game.
SF Express Pro WR Geonte Smith (Miramar 2014 prospect) - the younger brother of Miramar alum and NFL Draft prospect Geno Smith - made his presence felt in this tournament, particularly when he caught the game's only touchdown in in the final.
"He made some great catches for us throughout the tournament," Conyers said of Smith. "His route running was great and he puts us in position to win games."
Fire eliminated the likes of BallerNation (33-22 win in the first round), Big Bend Elite (29-8 win in the quarterfinals) and SF Express Elite (26-17 semifinal win) before meeting with SF Express Pro in the championship game.
Conyers said he was "surprised" that SF Express Elite - winners of the NFA 7-on-7 Tournament on March 2 at St. Thomas University in Miami - failed to reach the final.
"Well, I liked our chances to get to the final," Conyers said. "I just thought we were going to play our other team in the title game."
SF Express Elite QB Nicodem Pierre (Miami Coral Reef 2014 prospect) concurred - for the most part.
"Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose," Pierre said.
All five of Miami's 7-on-7 programs - Football Fire (NFA 7-on-7 Orlando winners), SF Express Pro (NFA 7-on-7 Orlando finalist), SF Express Elite (NFA 7-on-7 Miami winners), Hard Knocks (NFA 7-on-7 Rockledge winners) and Strong Arm (NFA 7-on-7 Miami Final Four participant) - are IMG bound.
"It feels good that all of our Miami teams qualified," Pierre said. "The majority of us go to the same schools and we've known each other for a long time. I feel like we're going to go into the IMG Tournament and dominate."
The IMG Southeast Regional Tournament, which will also feature fellow NFA 7-on-7 Final Four participant River City Kings, is set to place at IMG Academies from April 20-21 in Bradenton.