Spain Park finishes runner-up at Hustle Up National 7 on 7

Published 11:09 am Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HOOVER – Entering his second season leading the Spain Park Jaguars, head coach Tim Vakakes saw positive signs July 14-15 at a national competition held in the team’s home city.

Competing at the Hoover Met at this year’s Hustle Up 7 on 7 tournament, the Jaguars put together a 9-2 record at this year’s tournament, finishing runner-up to Walton High School out of Georgia.

Spain Park went 6-1 in the pool play portion of the tournament, earning the No. 3 seed heading into bracket play. The Jags then went 3-1 in the bracket play portion of the tournament, eventually finishing 9-2 after a tight 28-16 loss to Walton in the Gold Bracket championship.

In the pool play portion of the tournament, Spain Park gave up 19 points or less in every game aside from one with the defense showcasing its impressive effort. The Jags’ only loss came in a 19-10 effort against Pulaski Academy (Arkansas).

Beyond that, they won six others to finish Pool B 6-1 to earn the three seed. The Jags gave up the third least amount of points in pool play.

That earned Spain Park strong standing going into bracket play. The Jaguars took advantage of their high seed and started bracket play with a 28-13 effort against Tift County (Georgia).

While much of the tournament showcased their defensive consistency, the Jags squeaked out a higher-scoring game in the quarterfinals with a 29-25 win over North Desoto (Louisiana).

That set them up in the semifinals with a matchup against Benedictine Military (Georgia). Again, Spain Park’s defense shined, while they continued a consistent offensive effort with a 25-18 showing to earn a spot in the championship.

That set up a matchup with eight seed Walton, who beat 16 seed Knoxville Catholic (Tennessee), one seed Carrollton (Georgia) and four seed Christian Academy (Kentucky) to earn their way to the championship game.

Ultimately, Spain Park fell 26-18 in the final game of the tournament, but it didn’t detract from an impressive run against some of the top teams from across the Southeast.

Spain Park will soon begin to shift attention toward the 2023 season with fall practice on the near horizon.

The Jags will be looking to bounce back from a 3-7 season last year that featured wins against Calera, Chelsea and Pelham with losses to Briarwood, Hoover, Thompson, Vestavia Hills, Tuscaloosa County, Hewitt-Trussville and Oak Mountain.

Heading into the new season, however, Spain Park has plenty of reason for optimism.

Despite the challenges that lie ahead with the difficult week-in, week-out stretch of Class 7A, Region 3, the defense will be a bright spot, while the offense has an exciting mix of returning players and young talent.

Spain Park will open the season on Friday, Aug. 25 with a road trip to Calera before three straight home games against Briarwood and region foes Hoover and Thompson.