By Gabriel Stovall
LOCUST GROVE, Ga. — Clint Satterfield and his 7-on-7 passing league aspirations have come a long way.
When the Southside Shootout began back in 2007 at the Lovejoy soccer complex, it was just a handful of football coaches bringing their teams together to practice and bond.
“At one time, we were just trying to come together to get some work in and fellowship as coaches,” said Satterfield, who’s been the Locust Grove football coach since the school’s inception. “It was a time for us to come together in the summer time and have some fun.”
That’s still happening. But now, throw in a popular name brand sponsor, branded apparel for the athletes and broad regional exposure, and you’ve got something that seems almost otherworldly compared to what Satterfield, and a handheld of Southern Crescent coaches started almost 10 years ago.
The Southside 7-on-7 bash has spawned into a 48-team event called the Airo 7-on-7 Adidas State Championship, and Satterfield couldn’t be happier about how his baby has grown, and what that growth says about South Metro Atlanta football.
“It speaks volumes for the level of talent and football in our area,” Satterfield said. “Of course we’ve got schools from Clayton and Henry, but now Griffin and Spalding are coming in. We’ve got Butts County. We’re branching out a little bit.”
Satterfield attributes that to what he calls the “extended coaching family tree” that’s been created over the years. Such that even when coaches move on from the four-county area to coach in other places, they still want to stay connected with the event, now annually held at Locust Grove’s Warren Holder Park.
“That’s why guys like Greg Manior are here,” Satterfield said. “He left Mundy’s Mill and went to Rockdale, but he wanted to stay with us, so he brought Rockdale into the fold. We’ve got Heritage (Conyers) here this year. It’s cool to see the evolution of the coaching trees.”
Not only is the camaraderie being built over the summer, Satterfield points out that the relationships established during the event sometimes carry over into the fall football season.
“This thing brought me down to a meeting with the coach down there at Warner Robins, and so Locust Grove’s gonna host Warner Robins this year,” he said. “We’ll do a home-and-home series with them. That’s pretty cool stuff. We would’ve never had that conversation or played if not for our connection through this tournament.”
Adidas is in its second year as title sponsor of the event. Pool play began Tuesday afternoon and carried into Wednesday morning, while the single elimination tournament begins in earnest Wednesday at 11 a.m.
In addition to the 40 schools competing at Warren Holder Park, there are 18 high schools duking it out in Waycross. And Satterfield said the top two teams from Waycross and the top six from Locust Grove begin playing for the Adidas Georgia State Championship Wednesday at roughly around 1pm.
This year’s tournament looks to get more buzz, particularly regionally, with the social media blitz increasing and a group called Crossover who Satterfield said would be on hand, streaming highlight videos of the action across their digital platforms.
The thing that causes Satterfield to stick his chest out the most, however, is the fact that this tournament was able to spread without having to depart from its South Metro Atlanta roots.
“It’s a big deal to us,” he said. “It means something for us to be able to have this thing be successful and not have someone try to take it up to Cobb or Gwinnett (Counties). I always felt like Locust Grove and this south side could be a big football area, and things are starting to shape up that way. It’s great to watch.”
Here’s a list of competing schools, broken up into three pools:
- Locust Grove
- Mount Zion
- Warner Robins
- Miller Grove
- Woodland (B)
- Langston Hughes
- Mundy’s Mill
- East Coweta
- South Cobb
- Our Lady of Mercy
- Community Christian
- Henry County
- Forest Park
- Greene County
- Strong Rock
- North Clayton
- Morgan County
- Lithia Springs
- Walnut Grove
- Eagle’s Landing
- Union Grove
- Macon County