By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (July 6, 2016) — True, it’s just touch football.
But it’s the best touch football being played in Texas, and it’s a chance to continue building momentum for the upcoming UIL season.
That’s the mindset of Stephenville and pretty much every team across Texas that is packing its bags for the trip to College Station, where the Adidas Texas 7v7 Championships are set to unfold at Veterans Park & Sports Complex this weekend.
Stephenville junior quarterback Easton Jones has led the Yellow Jackets through pool play and into the semifinals in every state qualifier tournament in which they were eligible.
“Getting in (to state) kind of late with our third tournament wasn’t what we planned, but we made it to the semifinals in the firs two and were 3-0 in pool play in those, so we are pretty confident and excited going into it,” said Jones in a Wednesday morning interview. “It’s a great opportunity to build on momentum going into the season, but at the same time, if you go down there and it doesn’t go well, it’s just tag football so you forget about it and move on.”
Stephenville is in Pool O in the Division II tournament that begins Thursday. The top two teams from each pool advance to the championship bracket with the bottom two moving to the consolation bracket. Both brackets will be played off on Friday.
Joining Stephenville in pool play are El Campo, Tyler Grace Community and La Grange. The teams face off at 2, 4 and 6 p.m.
“El Campo, of course we know a little about their type of athletes from 2012 when we played them in state, and La Grange is supposed to be pretty athletic as well,” said Jones. “The private school from Tyler, we saw them at the McGregor Tournament when they were in the semifinal on the opposite side of us. They lost to Lorena, but we have heard they are pretty good.”
La Grange has one of the state’s top-rated skill players in J.K. Dobbins, the coverboy for Class 4A in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine.
“All of them are pretty good, and we feel like we are pretty good, so it should be a good pool,” said Jones.
Stephenville advanced from pool play to the championship bracket last season, then eliminated Brady before falling in the second round to China Spring.
One of the highlights for all the qualifying teams is the Adidas gear provided by the event’s naming rights sponsor.
“It’s always cool to get new jerseys and cleats, all that,” Jones said. “You don’t know anything about what the jerseys or anything look like until you get there, then you get to walk through the big display and the Adidas room and see all the new clothes and cleats and other gear, it’s awesome.”
While all the athletes appreciate Adidas, the point of the trip is still to win, and to build momentum for the real season that lies ahead.
“You can’t put too much into it, but you do want it to go well,” Jones said. “I want to make the championship bracket and at least get deeper than we did last year.”
Thursday Schedule for Pool O:
2 p.m.: Stephenville vs. La Grange
4 p.m.: Stephenville vs. Tyler Grace Community
6 p.m.: Stephenville vs. El Campo