Thursday marks the beginning of the 23nd annual Texas State 7-on-7 Championships, and for the 22nd year the event will be held in College Station, and once again the action will take place at Veterans Park. It’s a triumphant return for the State Tournament after last year’s State Qualifying and State Tournament were cancelled due to Covid-19. 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 2021 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!
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 15-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 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 (qualified but withdrew)
Lake Travis: 2010, 2017
Of note, Southlake Carroll fell in the title game in Division I in 2019, while 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 State Tournament for the second straight year. Crane aside from their title in 2008 did play for the state title again in 2019 falling to Poth. 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 in College Station. The hometown teams in College Station have dominated the last two years with College Station beating cross-town rival A&M Consolidated in the 2018 title game and in 2019 A&M Consolidated beating Southlake Carroll in the title game. Brownwood and Cy-Fair are on long streaks of their own having qualified for the state tournament in twenty-one straight years.
The Defending Champions
Since we didn’t have a State Tournament last year, the 2019 champions are still technically the defending champions. In Division III, Poth is back in College Station after qualifying for the State Tournament in the Ganado SQT on June 5. Sunnyvale took home the Division II crown in 2019, but the Raiders were unable to qualify for the State Tournament this year. Homestanding College Station A&M Consolidated qualified on June 11 at their own SQT, played right at Veterans Park.
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 semifinalist)
2013: Graham (state semifinalist)
2014: Graham (state semifinalist)
2015: Austin Westlake (state finalist)
2016: The Woodlands (state finalist)
2017: Graham (state semifinalist)
2017: Lake Travis (state finalist)
2018: Midlothian Heritage (regional semifinalist)
2018: Gunter (state semifinalist)
2019: Sunnyvale (regional semifinalist)
In 2019 the eight quarterfinalists in Division I combined to go an incredible 91-13 that fall in real football. The eight quarterfinalists in Division II went a combined 78-24 in the fall. Included in that list was the 4A Division II state runner-up and two regional semifinalists, along with a 4A Division I regional finalist and regional semifinalist. In Division III the final eight teams standing were a combined 79-24 in the fall with a 2A Division II state semifinalist, a 2A Division II regional finalist and a pair of 3A Division II regional semifinalists included in that group.
Here's a list of every team competing in this year's tournament.
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!
Archer City (last appearance 2010)
Breckenridge (last appearance 1998)
Garland (last appearance 2008)
Garrison (last appearance 2000)
Midland Lee (last appearance 2007)
Prosper (last appearance 2011)
Rosebud-Lott (last appearance 2010)
San Antonio Warren (last appearance 2010)
Spring (last appearance 2009)
Whitney (last appearance 2011)
First Appearance At The Dance
Below is a list of the teams making their first-ever appearance at the State 7-on-7 Tournament.
Alvin Shadow Creek
Conroe Grand Oaks
Corpus Christi Carroll
El Paso Americas
The Woodlands Christian
District 1-6A and 7-4A Division I Brings A Quartet to Aggieland
The Sun City had some major success in SQT play this summer as El Paso, specifically District 1-6A has four schools represented in the Division I bracket. El Paso Eastlake and El Paso Eastwood qualified in tournaments outside of town, while El Paso Americas and El Paso Coronado punched tickets in the local El Paso qualifier on June 5.
Considered one of the state’s toughest districts regardless of classification during the Friday Night Lights, the teams in 7-4A Division I have shown they know how to play in the summer as well as this district is sending four teams to College Station as Argyle, Kaufman, Melissa and Paris are all expected to do well this weekend.
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 Coronado who is making a 684-mile drive from the westside of El Paso to the Brazos Valley. The hometown teams in recent years have shown that the lack of travel may be an advantage with College Station, the 2018 champs back in the field, hotel reservations aren’t needed!
In Division II the top travel award goes to Dumas who will venture 560 miles south from the Texas Panhandle down to College Station. There aren’t any truly local teams playing in the Division II bracket, so Little River-Academy wins the prize for the shortest journey as the Bumblebees have an 83-mile trip down to College Station.
In Division III, Stratford WAY up in the Texas Panhandle has the longest road trip as the Elks will travel 594 miles to College Station, while nearby Hearne doesn’t have to deal with hotel reservations as they are just 25 miles away.
Who Are This Year’s Favorites??
As always picking results in the State 7-on-7 tournament is a dicey proposition at best, but we make our best effort to name five teams to keep an eye on in each division.
Division I: College Station, Lake Travis, Katy Tompkins, Denton Guyer, Humble Atascocita
Division II: Melissa, El Campo, Argyle, Wimberley, Carthage
Division III: Gunter, East Bernard, Hawley, Childress, Franklin
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. The DCTF crew will be out and about all over the place so come by our tent and say hello or if you see us out at a field say hi!
How To Follow The Tournament If You Can’t Make It
If you can’t make it out, DCTF will be all over the action tweeting out updates and video throughout the weekend! Check us out on Twitter @dctf or go to http://www.texasfootball.com for live score updates. We’ll also have a live broadcast on all three days from the scene FREE OF CHARGE thanks to our friends at Texas Army National Guard!! Check out all the action at http://www.texanlive.com
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