Local teams set for state 7-on-7 tourney

Panthers’ quest for title begins Friday; Jags will go for championship No. 2

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
Heritage High School celebrates with its championship belt after winning the 2018 state 7-on-7 tournament Division II title in College Station. The Jaguars will go for a second championship this weekend.

The brackets have been set, and three Ellis County 7-on-7 football teams are on their way to Aggieland to compete in the Texas 7-on-7 state tournament this weekend.

All tournament action will be held at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station.

The Midlothian Panthers are in the state tourney for the sixth time and will face College Station, Conroe Grand Oaks and Wolfforth Frenship in Pool E play in the Division I bracket, consisting of 5A and 6A schools. Pool games will take place on Friday afternoon starting at 1 p.m.

The top two finishers in each pool will play in the championship bracket on Saturday at 8:45 a.m. and the bottom two finishers in each pool will play in the consolation bracket Saturday at 8 a.m.

The Heritage Jaguars, who won the 2018 Division II 7-on-7 state championship in only the program’s third year, will face Little River Academy, Paris and Somerset in Pool G on Thursday afternoon. Division II consists of all Class 4A and Class 3A Division I teams. All Division II teams will advance to the championship bracket on Friday morning.

Ironically, Paris qualified for state in the Heritage 7-on-7 tournament over Memorial Day weekend as the Jags did, but the two did not play since both had already qualified for state. It’s customary for 7-on-7 semifinal winners not to play for the championship.

The 7-on-7 game is designed for teams to improve their passing and receiving skills. Each team consists of a center, a quarterback and five receivers on offense, and typically defensive backs and linebackers on defense.

The state tournament, which began in 1998, originally was held on the campus of Texas A&M University, but had to be relocated in 2013 after a new Southeastern Conference rule forbade the Aggies from hosting the tournament. No tournament was held in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MHS was able to grab one of the last available state slots on June 12 at a state qualifying tournament at Arlington Lamar. The Panthers beat Mansfield 19-14 and Denison 20-18, then lost to Lamar 13-8 but advanced on a tiebreaker.

The Jags, meanwhile, got their state qualification out of the way early as they secured a tournament berth for the fifth time with a 15-7 victory over Waco Connally in the Heritage Tournament semifinals. In pool play, the Jags beat Tyler Chapel Hill 12-8, then beat Whitesboro 19-7 and Wills Point 25-0.

One other Ellis County school, Palmer, will compete in College Station this weekend. The Bulldogs are entered in the Division III competition for schools Class 3A Division II and smaller.

Palmer will face Childress, Daingerfield and Flatonia in Pool A play on Thursday afternoon. Just as with Division II, all teams will advance to the championship bracket on Friday morning.

The Bulldogs have qualified for state every year since the Division III tournament was created in 2018, and also qualified in Division II in 2014. Palmer qualified for state on June 5 in a tournament in Archer City, beating Tioga and Collinsville and losing to Millsap in pool play.