FOUNTAIN LAKE – The Mount Ida Lions opened a lot of eyes Saturday as they battled their way through pool play and into the shootout round at Fountain Lake’s 7 on 7 tournament.
The tournament is one of the oldest of its kind in Arkansas, but Mount Ida may be one of the last programs to get involved in such events. The Lions are known for their powerful running game, but Coach Mike White decided last year to get involved in the passing competition as a way to prepare his players for the spread offense so prevalent in the 7-2A conference.
In only their second year to compete in 7 on 7, Mount Ida blew through pool play, winning their first four games, and qualified for the shootout round that would ultimately determine the winner of the tournament.
Mount Ida opened the tournament with a win over Lake Hamilton JV. Coach White acknowledged that is may have been a junior varsity squad, but he pointed out that Lake Hamilton is a 6A school and even their JV is as good as most smaller varsity squads.
The Lions then bested Cutter Morning Star and the Fountain Lake JV squad. Their final victory in pool play came against 4A Heber Springs.
Mount Ida ended pool play with a seven point loss to Benton. Coach White explained that the Lions failed to score on their first possession, but matched Benton score for score after that. Benton pulled ahead in the waning seconds of the game and the match up ended before Mount Ida could tie things up.
The Lions opened pool play with a victory over former conference opponent Poyen, but fell to the eventual tournament champion, Fountain Lake in the second round of the shootout round.
When asked about his teams performance, Coach White had nothing but good things to say about his team.
“They more exceeded all of my expectations Saturday.” He said when asked about the tournament.
He added that the shootout round was only supposed to include the top two teams from both pools, but they expanded it to four. This change forced the teams to play an extra game in the shootout round. Coach White stated that by the time his guys got to the semifinal round they were wore out. He explained that the heat was getting to his players and many of them had developed blisters on their feet from the astroturf.
Despite the loss Coach White is excited about the team’s performance and feels confident about the upcoming season.
Mount Ida will travel to Jessieville August 25 for a preseason jamboree and they will open the season Sept. 4 at home against Magazine.