DIVISION I STATE TOURNAMENT POOL PICKS
Pool A (In predicted order of finish)
1) Southlake Carroll
2) Round Rock Westwood
3) Fort Bend Travis
Southlake Carroll hasn’t been vintage this summer, but the Dragons have enough firepower to win this pool. SLC is an odd team to peg as there are years where they flat out dominate at the State Tournament (two time champs most recently in 2013) but in some years they will not take the event as seriously and have early exits. Westwood was impressive in early qualifying in the Austin area and gets the nod for second, although Travis is very dangerous. Willis has the experience of traveling for an SQT as they went to the DFW area early in qualifying.
Pool B (In predicted order of finish)
1) The Woodlands
2) Mesquite Poteet
This is one pool that is wide open, no team really stands out above the crowd. The Woodlands has the most State Tournament experience but they had a few struggles during qualifying. Mesquite Poteet is a real sleeper in this pool and the entire tournament. They have excellent QB play and plenty of speed. Hutto can score with anyone, if they can get stops they’ll be in the mix as well. Jacksonville was the big surprise out of East Texas but they could struggle in their first appearance at State.
Pool C (In predicted order of finish)
1) Arlington Lamar
2) Richmond Foster
3) Round Rock Cedar Ridge
4) El Paso Eastlake
Top to bottom you may not find a better pool than this one, it starts with Arlington Lamar who didn’t lose a game in qualifying all summer and has advanced to the State Tournament every year. The Vikings are among the real favorites to win it all for the first time. Richmond Foster had some good runs in the qualifying season, but it took a while for the Falcons to punch a ticket to state for the first time, they’ll be battle tested. Cedar Ridge made the semi-finals in two Austin area SQTs before qualifying in San Antonio, they are another battle tested bunch. There’s always a team from El Paso that is a tough out and Eastlake fits that bill, the Falcons were dominant in qualifying at the El Paso SQT and could be a real contender as well.
Pool D (In predicted order of finish)
2) Plano West
3) North Crowley
4) San Angelo Central
Pearland will be a real contender to make some noise, the Oilers have all the ingredients in the 7on7 game with an elite QB and tremendous athleticism on both sides and a bit of toughness and grit mixed in. DFW teams Plano West and North Crowley will be in the mix to finish second, slight edge to Plano West simply based on State 7on7 experience. San Angelo Central hasn’t fared well in their trips to state the past couple of years, the Bobcats can score points but getting stops at this level has proven to be a challenge.
Pool E (In predicted order of finish)
1) Plano East
3) Mission Pioneer
4) Killeen Harker Heights
Plano East needed three qualifiers to advance to state, but the Panthers are an impressive 10-2 this year in competitive 7on7 situations, they have a lot of experience returning and plenty of big time talent. They’ll be a threat to make a little noise along with Dickinson who is making their second straight trip to the State Tournament. Pioneer is making their first trip to the State Tournament, the new school in just their third year has emerged as one of the top 7on7 teams in the Valley. Harker Heights is one of four teams from the CenTex area to qualify, the Knights advanced out of the Abilene SQT.
Pool F (In predicted order of finish)
4) Clear Brook
Lufkin with a young team won the consolation bracket a year ago, they bring back a lot of skill talent and could be East Texas’ best shot at glory in 2016. The Panthers have multiple weapons at receiver and enough talent on defense to generate stops. Lancaster has more talent across the board than anyone, but this will be WEBO’s first foray into the State Tournament. They will be missing their top receiver as he’ll be in Oregon at The Opening, but they’ll give Lufkin fits. Belton has a big time QB and enough athletes to be a threat, while Clear Brook is a bit of a wild card.
Pool G (In predicted order of finish)
1) Houston Lamar
2) Abilene Cooper
3) Copperas Cove
Houston Lamar looks to be a clear favorite in this group, the Texans return plenty from a strong team a year ago and they have a lot of experience being a regular at the State Tournament. The real battle could be for second as all three teams can make a case. Credit to Mesquite for showing some resilience after losing their QB to an injury during spring practice. Abilene Cooper with a very efficient offense may be the best bet to finish as the runner up in this pool.
Pool H (In predicted order of finish)
2) Tomball Memorial
4) Alamo Heights
Much like Pool G the real battle could be for the second spot in this pool, DeSoto is the prohibited favorite in this group. The Eagles have big time talent at nearly every position including QB and they have the experience of being at the State Tournament, combine big time athletes with 7on7 savvy and you have a year in and year out contender. Tomball Memorial gets a slight nod for the second spot, but don’t discount scrappy Mercedes out of the Valley.
Pool I (In predicted order of finish)
1) Cy Fair
2) Richardson Pearce
4) College Station A&M Consolidated
This is a very balanced pool, cases can be made for any team in this group to win the pool. Perennial 7on7 power Cy Fair gets the favorite title, the Bobcats run a 7on7 specific offense that certainly differs from what they run in season and they are maddening for defenses to slow down in a 7on7 setting. What makes them elite is they play a scrappy defense and they always seem to make plays, the Bobcats advanced all the way to the semi-finals last year. High flying Pearce can score with anyone, depth and defense will be big questions. Denison and hometown A&M Consolidated are 7on7 veterans and can be tough to beat as well.
Pool J (In predicted order of finish)
1) Tyler John Tyler
2) Pflugerville Hendrickson
3) Pearland Dawson
4) Fort Worth South Hills
Another very good pool with four teams all capable of making noise if things break right. John Tyler has the combination of QB play, multiple weapons on offense and 7on7 experience to be considered the favorite, but the other three teams have strong resumes as well. South Hills is a real sleeper, but the Scorpions will be down a weapon as they’ll have one of their top players in Oregon at Nike’s The Opening. For pure athleticism, this pool top to bottom will have more athletes than any other pool.
Pool K (In predicted order of finish)
1) Cedar Hill
2) College Station
4) Fort Bend Ridge Point
This will be a fun group to follow, Cedar Hill has more high end FBS talent than any team in the tournament and the Longhorns showed last year they are capable of doing damage at the State Tournament after several less than stellar efforts. College Station has been a buzz saw this summer and with being at home they have a unique advantage, but don’t sleep on always tough Abilene who went to DFW and qualified at the Northwest SQT.
Pool L (In predicted order of finish)
2) Mesquite Horn
3) San Antonio O’Connor
4) Cy Creek
Waxahachie last year made a nice run in their first ever trip to the State Tournament, this year the Indians could be poised to make some big noise with a year of experience under their belts. Mesquite Horn posted an impressive 7-1 record in two qualifiers with the lone loss coming in the final seconds to Cedar Hill. The Jaguars will be missing their star QB who will be in Oregon, so that drops them to the second slot. O’Connor has made a habit of struggling on Day 1 but making a deep second day run in the Consolation bracket, we could see a repeat of that in 2016.
Pool M (In predicted order of finish)
1) Austin Westlake
2) El Paso Eastwood
3) Houston Heights
Austin Westlake’s run to the 7on7 State Title a year ago was a preview of what was to come as the Chaps advanced all the way to the title game in real football in 2015. A recurring theme for this tournament is the Chaps will at least on Day 1 be missing their QB as he’ll also be in Oregon at the Nike Event. That could open things up for Eastwood who has shown the past two years they can compete with just about anyone. Heights (formerly Reagan) is a strong contender, while Richland is making their first appearance at the State Tournament since 2010, the Rebels won the title back in 2008.
Pool N (In predicted order of finish)
2) Austin Bowie
3) Lewisville Hebron
4) Lubbock Monterey
This pool is totally wide open, if we were talking real football Katy would be the team to beat and although Katy is no slouch at 7on7 they will be tested. Austin Bowie has traditionally had good showings at the State Tournament (quarter-finals last year), while Hebron is returning to the state stage for the first time since 2013. Lubbock Monterey was a surprise qualifier but the Plainsmen may have a tough time keeping up in this grouping.
Pool O (In predicted order of finish)
1) Lake Travis
3) Arlington Bowie
4) Beaumont West Brook
Pool O certainly competes with Pool C as the “Pool of Death” as Lake Travis and Manvel are two teams on a short list who could win the entire thing. Manvel advanced all the way to the title game last year before falling to Westlake in double overtime, while Lake Travis rolled all the way to the semi-finals before losing to Westlake by a single point. Lake Travis has plenty of experience returning so they get the slightest of nods over Manvel. Arlington Bowie and West Brook are both very good teams in most pools would compete for a chance to make the championship bracket, but in this pool they appear to be fighting for third.
Pool P (In predicted order of finish)
2) Killeen Ellison
3) Cy Ranch
4) McAllen Memorial
Arlington Lamar gets most of the publicity when it comes to 7on7 in Arlington, but Arlington High is a real sleeper. The Colts have been tremendous all summer and are playing as well as any team in the field, they’ve got experience after a good summer and plenty of confidence. Killeen Ellison is another sleeper in green, the Eagles advanced to the semi-finals at the Belton and Rowlett SQTs and finally qualified down in Houston on the final week of qualification. Ellison has the unique perspective of having played CenTex, Austin, DFW and Houston schools. McAllen Memorial has a long wait between trips to state, the Mustangs last advanced to College Station in 2002.