Ready for 7-on-7 showdown at A&M?

Getting geared up for the state 7-on-7 tournament in College Station? We are. And Texas Prep Insider will have a crew on the ground to bring you some updates. But as we get the ball rolling, Terry Carter from TPI-Houston has a few quick notes to share with you as the time counts down for the big show this weekend.

The 12th annual Fox Sports Southwest 7-on-7 State Championship returns to College Station July 9-11 to decide the off-season football champions. Many great teams will be battling in the 64-team field for Class 4A and 5A schools, but don't overlook the smaller schools.

They will compete in a highly competitive Class A-3A tourney of 32 teams. Format is unique here with the small school tournament starting pool play Thursday at 1 p.m. on the Penberthy Intramural Fields on the Texas A&M campus. This tournament should conclude Friday with 1 p.m. championship and consolation games at Kyle Field.

The 64-team tournament will begin pool play Friday at 1 p.m. with consolation and championship games tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday at Kyle Field.

• In reviewing the 64-team field, traditional fall powers are well represented, but schools like Bellaire, Birdville, Oak Ridge, El Paso Chapin, Richardson Pearce and Mission stand out to me. All are quality programs chasing the next level of pigskin success during the summer.

Some – like Mission – have experienced it in the fall already.

Mission has a history when it comes to passing the football from 1986-88 with quarterback Lupé Rodriguez and receiver Nati Valdez setting records. Valdez still shares the career reception record of 252 catches with Burnet's Jordan Shipley. And Koy Detmer arrived after the Rodriguez-Valdez days to continue Mission's aerial attack.

• Don't make the mistake of ignoring the small school tourney. The field is stacked with playoff legends, including Abilene Wylie, Brownwood, Celina, Gatesville, Burnet, McGregor and Pilot Point.

And don't forget the small school division has been around since 2007, which means Celina holds a unique distinction. The Bobcats are the only team in Texas 7-on-7 history to win a state title in the small school tournament in 2007 (28-21 over Crane) and against all comers in 2000 (45-41 against Abilene Cooper) before two-division play was implemented.

Surprised a Class 2A defending state champion could win the 7-on-7 state title against a world of bigger, faster, more recruited athletes? Don't be. The Celina Bobcats entered the 2000 football season as two-time state champions with a record-breaking winning streak. When it concluded in 2002, Celina had won four straight 2A state titles and a state-record 68 consecutive games. Since 1998, Celina has played in eight state championship games – winning six of them.

The Bobcats also had a pretty fair coach in G.A. Moore Jr. in 2000. Moore's 407-78-9 career record represents the most wins by a Texas football coach in all classes.

• History in 7-on-7 play favors the prepared, but it offers no guarantees. Abilene schools have finished in the top four on five occasions. Abilene Cooper finished second to Celina in 2000 and captured the consolation title in 2001 with a 34-32 win over Carrollton Creekview.

Abilene finished second in 2002, fourth in 2005 and third in Division I in 2008. Those schools take this off-season program seriously and that helps here.

• No team has repeated as a 7-on-7 state champion the next year. The odds of Richland or consolation winner Crane reaching the winner's circle in 2009 seems long. For those who follow the off-season, 7-on-7 action, however, surprise is the name of the game when squads arrive in College Station.

Richland was not expected to emerge from pool play in 2008. Crane, after a consolation runner-up finish in 2007, entered the tournament with high hopes. Both excelled at the right time, which shows the unlimited potential for all 96 teams playing at A&M this weekend. 

Best of luck to everyone.


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