Plum football duo shows talents with Pittsburgh-based Evolve 7-on-7
A number of the top high school football standouts from the Pittsburgh region got a chance to show their talents nationally over the past couple of months through the Evolve 2/10ths 7-on-7 program.
Plum rising sophomore Rahmon Hart Jr. and Kevin Brown, a rising senior, were a part of the action on both offense and defense, and they helped the squad reach the IMG National Championship tournament in Bradenton, Fla., from June 23 to 26.
Evolve placed eighth at nationals out of 40 teams in action.
“There were a lot of ups and downs this season,” Evolve coach Von Madden said. “We had a lot of injuries at the start of the season. It was a slow start, but everyone starting jelling. It was definitely a great finish after a tough start.”
The team consisted of players in all grades from eighth through 12th from schools such as Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Penn Hills, Woodland Hills, Seton LaSalle, North Catholic and Steel Valley.
Hart Jr. took part in a Rivals underclassmen challenge in Atlanta on June 11, and the 6-foot-2, 200 pounder came away from the 7-on-7 season with Evolve with a scholarship offer from Temple University.
“That’s a pretty big accomplishment,” Rahmon Hart Sr. said. “We weren’t thinking that a kid would get an offer after his freshman year. But he’s done so well at these camps.”
Madden said both Hart and Brown didn’t attend the IMG national championship tournament in Florida as they opted to go to the Pitt 7-on-7 camp with their Plum teammates.
Plum went 8-2 at the Pitt camp against some of the more competitive teams in the WPIAL and beyond.
Madden stressed that while he wants to give the Evolve players as much national opportunity and exposure, as well as on-field experience, he doesn’t want to jeopardize what they are doing in developing with their high school teams.
“These boys have a chance to play against some of the best teams in the nation, and it’s very valuable experience,” Hart Sr. said. “There are up to 60 teams at a tournament with a lot of scouts watching.”
Evolve fields three teams, so a player could play on multiple teams in a given time period. Madden said that gives the teams some flexibility with player availability.
Evolve beat the No. 1 seed, Pro Impact, with players from Florida and Georgia and several commits to schools such as Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia, in the second round of the bracket playoffs at nationals.
Evolve also qualified for nationals in 2015 but didn’t attend.
The team was ranked eighth out of more than 700 teams by the National 7-on-7 Association.
The 2016 season began with tryouts in January and then practices until the start of the competition season in April.
The 2/10ths partnership involves training sessions under the direction of Dwayne Brown.
“Both Madden and Brown are great mentors,” Hart Sr. said. “They are there for the kids 24/7, and not just about football. They keep them focused. They emphasize character and being a good person with life lessons.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5825 or at [email protected].