Thursday marks the beginning of the 22nd annual Adidas Texas State 7-on-7 Championships, and for the 21th straight year the event will be held in College Station, and once again the action will take place at Veterans Park. A robust 128 teams from across the state will gather for three days of action in one of the final big off-season events before the start of the 2019 Texas high school football season. The event has grown from humble beginnings with just 24 teams playing the inaugural event to this weekend’s massive showcase. As usual, we've decided to give you a tournament primer and some things to watch for the exciting weekend of action!
First look: Pool play predictions & previews
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; it’s all 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 late April. Teams are divided into three 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 Class 4A, 3A Division I and small private schools. Finally, the Division III bracket, which consists of schools in Class 3A Division II and below – no private schools are allowed in this division, plays Thursday and Friday, as well.
Who Are The Historical Powers?
There’s no question 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:
Graham: 2013, 2014, 2017
Baytown Lee: 2001, 2005 (did not qualify)
Southlake Carroll: 1998, 2013
Lake Travis: 2010, 2017
Of note, Graham also played for the title in 2012, falling to Celina in the Division II bracket. Navasota won a title in 2015, but the Rattlers also played for the crown back in 2008, falling to Crane. The Rattlers, however, did not qualify for the second straight year. 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 are among the favorites in the Division I bracket, as they are on quite the roll, dominating DFW qualifiers the past four weeks. Brownwood and Cy-Fair are on long streaks of their own having qualified for the state tournament in twenty straight years.
The Defending Champions
College Station knocked off cross-town rival A&M Consolidated in last year's title game and after qualifying on the final day of qualifying will return to defend their crown. Midlothian Heritage took home the Division II crown a year ago, taking down Texarkana Pleasant Grove 39-20, the Jaguars rolled on Day 2 winning their final four games by double digits. The defending Division III state champion Gunter, failed to qualify this year, proving just how tough the qualification process can be. The Tigers made the qualifying round at multiple tournaments, but just couldn’t close the deal.
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 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 semifinalist)
2010: Brownwood (state semifinalist)
2012: Celina (regional semifinalist)
2013: Southlake Carroll (regional semi-finalist)
2013: Graham (state semifinals)
2014: Graham (state semifinals)
2015: Austin Westlake (state finalist)
2016: The Woodlands (state finalist)
2017: Graham (state semifinals)
2017: Lake Travis (state finalist)
2018: Midlothian Heritage (regional semi-finalist)
2018: Gunter (state semi-finalist)
A year ago the eight quarterfinalists in Division I combined to go a more than respectable 62-32 in the fall. The eight quarterfinalists in Division II went a combined 79-27 in the fall. Included in that list was the 4A Division II state runner-up, along with a 3A Division I state semifinalist and a 3A Division II state semifinalist. In Division III the final eight teams standing were a combined 68-28 with a 3A Division II state semifinalist and a 2A Division I regional finalist included in that group.
Teams in all divisions will play three games in their pool on Day 1 (Thursday for Division II and III; Friday for Division I), then split off into single elimination format on Day 2.
In Division II and III, teams are placed into eight pools of four teams and seeded based on performance on Day 1 into a 32-team single elimination bracket on Friday.
In Division I, the 64 teams will be placed into 16 pools of four teams. The top two teams in each pool advance to the 32-team championship bracket, while the third and fourth place teams will be in the 32-team consolation bracket.
It’s Been a While, Welcome Back!
These teams have advanced to the State 7-on-7 Tournament before, but it has been a few years, so welcome these old friends back to College Station!
Arp (last appearance 2002)
Austin Anderson (last appearance 2009)
Flower Mound Marcus (last appearance 2002)
Frisco (last appearance 2004)
Frisco Lone Star (last appearance 2012)
Klein Oak (last appearance 2011)
Rockwall-Heath (last appearance 2011)
Waco Midway (last appearance 2005)
Wichita Falls Rider (last appearance 2012)
First Appearance At The Dance
Below is a list of the teams making their first-ever appearance at the State 7-on-7 Tournament.
San Antonio Brandeis
Wichita Falls Hirschi
Wichita Falls City View
Cy-Fair ISD Brings A Quartet
No school district will have more teams at the state tournament than Cy-Fair ISD as the suburban Houston district has four of their 12 high schools playing in the state tournament. Cy-Fair, Cy Falls, Cy Woods and Bridgeland will all be in action on Friday and Saturday.
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 award goes to El Paso Parkland, located on the Northeast side of the Sun City. The Matadors will travel a whopping 684 miles one way. Defending Divison I champion College Station, along with College Station A&M Consolidated, won’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 award goes to Dumas out of the Texas Panhandle as they’ll travel 559 miles out to College Station. There aren’t any truly local teams playing in the Division II bracket, so Crockett wins the prize for the shortest journey as the Bulldogs have an 80-mile trip from the Piney Woods down to College Station.
In Division III, Van Horn has a daunting 559 mile journey from Far West Texas out to College Station, while nearby Hearne doesn’t have to deal with hotel reservations as they are just 25 miles away.
Who Are The Favorites??
As always picking results in the State 7-on-7 tournament is a dicey proposition at best, but we make the effort to name five teams to keep an eye on in each division.
D1: Arlington Lamar, Southlake Carroll, Lake Travis, Clear Springs, Cy-Fair
D2: Graham, China Spring, Waco LaVega, Sunnyvale, Texarkana Pleasant Grove
D3: Arp, Falls City, Palmer, Albany, Comfort
What's With the Helmets?
The Texas 7-on-7 board in February announced that softshell helmets would be strongly encouraged, but not required during State Qualifying this year, but starting with the State Tournament they would be required for all teams. After the serious injury to a player from Arlington Lamar during qualifying a year ago, this move was destined to come in an effort to increase safety as players get bigger and faster. The 7-on-7 board elected to use the Virginia Tech helmet ratings as their guide for setting standards and only helmets with a four or five star rating will be allowed (along with some other requirements listed on the State 7-on-7 website). Currently only two soft shell helmets meet that standard, although it's expected more brands will rise to that standard in the next few months. Schools that don’t currently have the helmets will have the option of renting helmets to play in the tournament this year.
Coming Out to Watch Your Team Play?
If you can, come on out to College Station and cheer your favorite team on. Even if you are just a high school football fan, it’s a blast to come out and watch these talented players in action up close and personal. Admission is free, bring a chair, a cooler stocked with cold drinks and lots of sun screen! The Bryan-College Station area has plenty of hotels, but they book quick so if you plan on staying more than a day, make sure you get your reservations ASAP. The Veterans Park complex in College Station is quite large and if you plan on going to multiple fields to check out the action, be prepared for a 10-15 minute walk, however DCTF has you COVERED in 2019 in a big way! Look for the DCTF Hospitality Tent which will be set up for our DCTF Insiders along with our fan shuttle that’ll help transport fans to and from the site to the parking lot. We are very excited to offer this service to the fans and coaches from around the state in 2019 at the Texas 7-on-7 State Tournament.