High School Terminus was played this past weekend at Georgia Sports Park in just south of Atlanta. 24 teams from Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, and a slew of local teams from Georgia took to the field.
The weather on Saturday was nearly perfect and teams were fired up to play. Upsets started early as DeSmet Jesuit out of Missouri took down local team Lakeside. DeSmet came in without any games played officially and turned out to be under-seeded. They moved the disc efficiently and proved to have a balanced attack that Lakeside couldn’t defend. Similarly, YHB out of Virginia struck with an early upset of Madison Central. Madison was a semifinalist at Deep Freeze but just couldn’t handle YHB’s consistent offensive flow. Both YHB and DeSmet played similar styles of fundamental offense that minimized risks, which helped against top heavy rosters of Lakeside and Madison.
Only one pool went to seed as Woodward barely held off Grady in the 1v2 matchup of Pool C. Despite Woodward suffering a couple of injuries, Zack Mills was able to carry his team to a 3-0 pool play record. In Pool D, Collins Hill rode the heightened shoulders of Sam Lannon to an upset over Brookwood. When Lannon wasn’t out-jumping the Brookwood boys in the endzone he was throwing huge backhands to a slew of speedy receivers.
After pool play top seeds Paideia, Blackman, Woodward, and Collins Hill were left with crossovers for seeding in the Sunday bracket. Paideia had an easy time with Blackman, who appeared to be content with a pool win and focusing more on Sunday than on the crossover. Woodward eeked out a win over Collins Hill 9-8 to maintain the second overall seed in the tournament. In the 2-3 play-in for the A bracket, YHB beat Lakeside by working patiently against the Lakeside zone and Brookwood beat McCallie in a rematch of Deep Freeze prequarters. Brookwood got a lead early 3-0 and tried to cruise but McCallie kept fighting, bringing the game to double game point. Brookwood recieved, scoring with Paideia-esque efficiency on 5 straight in-cuts. After coming out of Pool C, the toughest of the day, Madison Central drew the most difficult crossover in DeSmet. Madison had suffered a couple of key injuries and had to open up their lines a bit more than they wanted, and DeSmet used fundamental offense to win 13-5 and secure a spot in the A bracket. In the final crossover for the A bracket, Grady and Grayson squared off. Grady used star Caleb Shorthouse and a strong cast of role players to take down Grayson despite the fact that senior captain Gino Mattice was laying out all over the place.
Sunday arrived with cold temperatures and strong gusty wind. The wind wreaked havoc with teams all day with very few games making it to 13. Instead, game after game saw the soft cap coming on at 7, 8, or 9. Two different styles emerged amongst the squads with both showing degrees of success. Several teams opted to try to use the wind and field position by sending deep looks and setting zone defense off the deep turnovers.
In the quarterfinals, Paideia handled the wind well over Grady by using years of fundamental practice to keep the disc moving. John Stubbs, Nils Clauson, and Mark Vandenberg showed why they are heading to Junior Worlds by being smart and efficient players in the wind. Collins Hill again used Lannon down field to find floaty discs against YHB and won the field position game, which is reflected in the 12-4 score. DeSmet worked methodically with short looks and strong throws in the wind, beating Woodward 12-2. Numerous players remarked at how it seemed like DeSmet was accustomed to the wind as somehow their throws seemed less affected by the gusts than their opponents. Blackman beat Brookwood in the closest quarters match by repeatedly pinning Brookwood’s offense on the goal-line and forcing punts that went out of bounds early, often resulting in several easy 5-10 yard scores on transition.
The semifinals saw Paideia beat Collins Hill 8-5 at cap by using the same patience they had all weekend. Also, Collins Hill’s punt and play D strategy didn’t work as well as Paideia was content to lean on their training and was clearly the strongest team against the wind. Blackman, having played 26 games already this season, used their depth and conditioning to outwork DeSmet, who were playing in their first tournament of the year.
Blackman and Paideia faced off in the finals with a rematch of Saturday’s crossover. Again, Paideia’s experience and training lead to a solid team effort and a win over Blackman 11-4 in the soft cap.
In the end Sunday proved to be ruled by the teams that could either negate the wind the best by using strong throws or by the teams that found ways to use the wind strategically to put opponents in poor field position and score using fast transition offense. Every team from 1-24 found competition at or near their level with very few blowouts across both days. Above all that, Spirit of the Game seemed to permeate the fields as few long discussions were seen and every team seemed to come away with great respect for their opponents.
Final standings are posted at http://scores.usaultimate.
Photos will be posted at http://www.ultiphotos.com/
Feature photo by Christina Schmidt (UltiPhotos.com)