2017 Texas 7-on-7 State Championship Primer

DCTF'S HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL INSIDER GIVES YOU AN INTRO TO THE 20TH ANNUAL STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS!

This Thursday marks the beginning of the 20th annual Adidas Texas State 7-on-7 Championships, and for the 19th year the event will again be held in College Station. The action will take place at Veterans Park, where 128 teams from across the state will gather for three days in one of the final big off-season events before the start of the 2017 Texas high school football season. The event has grown from humble beginnings (with just 32 teams playing the inaugural event) to today’s massive showcase featuring 128 programs and generating over three million dollars for the Bryan-College Station economy each summer. We decided to give you a tournament primer and some things to watch for the exciting weekend of action!

First things first. Here are the Division I and Division II pools.

Division I picks can be found here.

Division II picks can be found here

What is it?

For those of you who are new to this, 7-on-7 is a game very similar to flag football. It’s played on a 45-yard field, with seven players per side. There’s no rushing, only passing and QBs have four seconds to throw the ball. Games are played in two 20-minute halves and the clock never stops. Teams qualify for the State 7-on-7 Tournament by advancing out of one of the numerous qualifying tournaments which began in early May. Teams are divided into two divisions, Division I plays Friday and Saturday and consists of 6A, 5A and large private schools, while Division II plays Thursday and Friday and consists of 4A and below schools, along with small private schools.

Who are the historical powers?

There’s no question that Celina has the best history of teams at the State 7-on-7 Tournament. The Bobcats have won four titles (2000, 2007, 2009 and 2012) and nearly every year are a contender to bring the hardware home.  Other multiple title winners include:

Baytown Lee 2001, 2005 (did not qualify this year)

Southlake Carroll 1998, 2013 (did not qualify this year)

Graham 2013, 2014

Graham also played for the title in 2012, falling to Celina in the Division II bracket. Navasota won a title in 2015, and the Rattlers also played for the crown back in 2008, falling to Crane. Arlington Lamar is the only team in the state to have qualified for every State 7-on-7 Tournament since 1998, but the Vikings have never won it all despite some deep runs. They aren’t among the favorites in the Division I bracket, but they are lurking in that next set of teams who, if they get hot, could be a real force.

The defending champions

Kaufman took home the Division II crown a year ago, while The Woodlands took home bragging rights in Division I. Both teams are back in College Station looking to defend their titles.

How do the champions do in the fall?

In the early days of 7-on-7 there was little to no correlation to winning the state title in 7-on-7 and success in the fall. In fact, Baytown Lee won state 7-on-7 in 2005 and failed to win a game in the fall! However, in recent years that trend has started to change and there’s even been a few teams who won both state 7-on-7 and UIL football titles in the same year. (Tyler Lee 2004, Celina 2000 & 2007, Lake Travis 2010, Melissa 2011). However, just because you don’t win a state title in football doesn’t mean the season was a failure, check out some of the other deep playoff runs by State 7-on-7 Champions below:

2009: Round Rock Stony Point (State Semifinals)

2010: Brownwood (State Semifinals)

2012: Celina (Regional Semifinals)

2013: Southlake Carroll (Regional Semifinals)

2013: Graham (State Semifinals)

2014: Graham (State Semifinals)

2015: Austin Westlake (State Finalist)

2016: The Woodlands (State Finalist)

A year ago, the eight quarterfinalists in Division I combined to go an incredible 96-14 in the fall, including one state champion in 6A Division II and the 6A Division I runner-up. The eight quarterfinalists in Division II went a combined 79-25 in the fall, and included the 4A Division I state champion.

Tournament format

Teams will play three games in their pool on Day 1, then split off into single elimination format on Day 2 with the top two teams going to the championship bracket and the bottom two heading to the consolation bracket. Teams could play a maximum of eight games on the weekend, three on Day 1 and five on Day 2.

Teams to watch

The State 7-on-7 Tournament doesn’t always come down to the most talented team winning, but it is often a matter of depth and getting hot on the day of single elimination. There have been a number of teams who on Day 1 didn’t even win their pool, yet got on a roll once they got to bracket play. So that being said, it is really tough to narrow down true favorites, but we’ll give it a shot!

In the Division I bracket keep an eye out for Pearland, Manvel, Hutto, DeSoto and College Station. Manvel is one of the more dominant 7-on-7 programs in the state, they have tremendous depth and know the 7-on-7 game, but they’ve been in favorite position before and faltered at state. Pearland is always in the mix in the fall, but the Oilers may have one of their best 7-on-7 teams ever. Austin always produces two or three really outstanding teams in 7-on-7 and Hutto looks to be the best of a talented crew from the ATX. It’s been an odd year for qualifying in DFW with no real dominating team emerging, but when at full strength, DeSoto looks to be the head of the class. Finally, one of two home teams, College Station is an emerging as a force in 7-on-7 and in real football as well. The Cougars have made some deep runs and they again look poised to contend for the title.

In Division II, you have to start with the two powerhouse teams from North Texas in four-time champion Celina and two time champion Graham. These two played for the title in 2012 and if the brackets break right, they could match up once again. Both teams have been flat out dominating in SQT play this summer. China Spring, who lost the title game in 2015 to Navasota, showed early on in qualifying play they could be a real contender. The Cougars’ success in 7-on-7 has certainly translated to the fall. South Texas has a couple of real contenders in last year’s runner-up Somerset and super talented Cuero. Finally, a real sleeper could be first-time qualifier Lubbock Estacado, the Matadors rolled through the Snyder SQT and before that played in a Division I qualifier losing in the semifinals to Lubbock Coronado. If the Matadors can play consistent and handle the attention of being a highly thought of contender, they could be a noise maker in their debut appearance.

It’s been a while, welcome back!

Corsicana last made the State Tournament back in 2004, but the Tigers in early June secured a return trip to College Station qualifying at the Bell SQT with a win over Plano. The longest gap in appearances goes to Marshall in Division I, who is making the tournament for the first time since 2002.  Sweeny and Texarkana Pleasant Grove have the longest time between trips as each qualified back in 2000 before the Division I/Division II split.

First appearance at the dance

Below is a list of the teams making their first ever appearance at the State 7-on-7 Tournament.

Division I

The Colony

Frisco Wakeland

Dallas Wilson

Lubbock Coronado

Haslet Eaton

Mansfield Timberview

Edinburg North

Houston St Pius

Del Valle

Division II

Deweyville

San Augustine

Brazosport

Lubbock Estacado

Rio Hondo

Bonham

Regional breakdown

In the Division I bracket as usual DFW (19 teams) and Houston (16 teams) are the most well represented regions at the State Tournament, but Austin (8 teams) always features good depth.  The RGV and East Texas are also both well represented with five teams each.  In Division II, Central Texas (13 teams) leads way, while DFW (11 teams) and West Texas (11 teams) are right behind. 

Road tripping or sleeping in your own bed?

As is often the case in the Division I bracket, no one puts more miles on the vehicles than the teams from El Paso and this year the title of road warrior goes to El Paso Coronado located on the west side of the Sun City. The Thunderbirds will travel a whopping 682 miles one way, while crosstown Eastlake High “only” has 660 miles to trek. College Station High and A&M Consolidated don’t need to worry about hotel reservations as they’ll be sleeping at home for the weekend with the State Tournament being held in their hometown.

In Division II, the top travel goes to the Pecos Eagles out in Far West Texas as they’ll travel 488 miles out to College Station. Navasota wins the prize for the shortest journey as the Rattlers only have 22 miles from NHS to Veterans Park.

How to follow the tournament

If you can, come on out to College Station and cheer your favorite team on, or if you are just a football fan, it’s a blast to come out and watch these talented TXHSFB players in action up close and personal! Admission is free, bring a chair and lots of sun screen! If you can’t make it out, DCTF will be all over the action tweeting out updates and video throughout the weekend!

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Matt Stepp is the Texas High School Football Inside for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Find him on Twitter: @Matt_Stepp817.

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