Led by USC commit and tournament Most Valuable Player Stephen Carr, who kept his engine revving throughout a seven hour tournament, plus a defense that unleashed a tidal wave against opposing offenses and swept away any big play opportunities, Ground Zero can call themselves the Passing Down Best of the West champions for the second time in three years.
The Inland Empire based team knocked off the Pro Way Hot Boyz 13-0 in Best of the West VII held at Bradford Stadium in Placentia, Calif. on April 24. Ground Zero – winners of the 2014 tournament - utilized the big plays and stamina of Carr and then relied on a stockpiled secondary that only surrendered a combined 24 points in four playoff games.
Carr not only scored on a 24-yard scamper, but sealed Ground Zero’s title by taking another handoff down the right side and accelerating for a 35-yard gain during the contest’s closing moments. Carr took home the MVP hardware and won new Monster 24K headphones; which gets awarded to the Best of the West MVP.
“A lot is going through my head. It’s exciting to be the Best of the West champions and this is my last year on this circuit, so it feels great to win,” Carr said.
While the 2017 prospect Carr was the ankle-breaking and speed weapon for the Ground Zero offense, he gave credit to the rest of his Ground Zero crew.
“I can’t put this on the offense, the defense gave us a shutout. I give props to our defense and everyone on this team makes me a better player. I give all props to them,” Carr said.
Defensively, the five-headed monster of Olaijah Griffin, Thomas Graham, Jaiden Woodbey, Deommodore Lenoir and Jaylon Redd put the clamps down on opposing offenses. Redd, who holds 13 Football Bowl Subdivision offers including two from Oregon and Nebraska, said the defense came with a lot patience.
“We were going against the best of the best and if we got beat, we couldn’t keep our head down,” Redd said. “We just had to keep our head up and keep working. We played physical, smart and kept our heads up the entire game.”
Redd brought versatility to the Ground Zero secondary by lining up at both cornerback and safety, which he said brought confusion to Pro Way quarterback and Nebraska commit Tristan Gebbia.
“Our coaches said they like to throw the ball down the middle of the field, so I played on the third receiver – the running back over the top – and I kind of slowed down his reads and that’s what worked for us,” Redd said.
The win over Pro Way was also a measure of revenge for Ground Zero, as they fell 14-6 during their last meeting at the March 20 Southern California regional held in Fontana.
“Man, out of all these teams and states, we’re the best in the world,” Redd said.
By Lorenzo Reyna