This summer has been busy for many of Wiregrass Ranch High’s skill-position football players, including quarterback Shane Bucenell, who has competed in several 7-on-7 tournaments.
The latest tourney for the Bulls was at Sarasota High , where Wiregrass Ranch took second place after losing to Palmetto in the championship. En route to the title contest, the Bulls defeated Sarasota Cardinal Mooney (14-13) and Punta Gorda Charlotte (27-22).
“Ever since we lost to Sunlake in the spring classic, that has motivated us to really go hard in our workouts and in 7-on-7,” Bucenell said. “Competing against Palmetto was big, but I don’t think 7-on-7 tells the whole story. Everyone will see this fall that we’re more of a team and family. We spend so much time together as brothers on the football team and we’re looking to keep improving this summer.”
Heading into his senior season, Bucenell has been working to improve his numbers from the 2013 season (1,128 yards, six TDs). He took part in the IMG 7v7 National Championship tournament last weekend. Wiregrass Ranch’s quarterback played on team Unsigned Preps, which finished second to Miami’s Florida Fire. Bucenell played along side Tampa Bay area standouts like Sickles’ running back Ray Ray McCloud III and Alonso’s Chris Oladokun.
“I have never been to the IMG Academy, but I can say it was one of the best 7-on-7 tournaments I’ve ever played in,” Bucenell said. “Some really incredible talent. I wasn’t surprised at all that we were able to compete in the tournament. I had teammates like Ray Ray McCloud out there and others. We had really good team going in, so we knew we’d be able to compete with whoever.”
Gators take 2nd in 7-on-7 tourney
Land O’ Lakes is looking toward the future by bringing two teams to 7-on-7 tournaments. Coach Brian Wachtel has one team of juniors and seniors, with the other is made up of sophomores and players needing more experience.
That was the positive from last weekend’s Wesley Chapel 7-on-7 tournament, which was hosted and held at Wesley Chapel High. The Gators finished in second place behind East Lake, which defeated Land O’ Lakes’ varsity team 33-17.
“The biggest benefit to the tournament for us was we were able to bring two teams,” Wachtel said. “We were able to play our underclassmen and they got to play against a lot of competition. Just the repition and the timing was huge for our younger players. East Lake is a good football team and we faced some high caliber competition. It’s 7-on-7, but we got to see some different looks.”
Wachtel said nose guard Conor Heaney and center Josh Gaulden took part in the University of South Alabama’s prospect camp recently. Both Heaney and Gaulden had the opportunity to meet with South Alabama’s coaching staff and compete in combine-like drills.
Pensyl, Hutchins commit
Land O’ Lakes’ quarterback James Pensyl and Wiregrass Ranch’s Mark Hutchinson have committed to Oregon State and Florida International this past month.
“The benefit in the early decision for James (Pensyl) was that now all he has to focus on is his senior season and just playing football,” Wachtel said.
Pensyl had a stellar 2013 season in helping lead the Gators to an 8-2 record. The 6-foot-6 standout threw for more than 2,000 yards and 22 touchdowns to only three interceptions.
Hutchinson becomes the second player from Wiregrass Ranch to make a commitment this summer, with fellow-teammate Jaye Miner committing to Florida Atlantic earlier this month. The 6-foot-2 rising senior hauled in seven passes for 113 yards for the Bulls last season.
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.