By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (June 28, 2017) — Stephenville and Dublin are among the qualifiers competing in the 2017 Division II Texas 7-on-7 Championship presented by Adidas with pool play Thursday and bracket play Friday at Veterans Park in College Station.
The Erath County state qualifiers are on opposite sides of the event, so their games will be staggered. Dublin is in Pool F and faces Liberty at 1 p.m. on Field 9A, Rockdale at 3 p.m. on 9B and San Augustine at 5 p.m. back on 9A. Stephenville has the later games in Pool P, opening at 2 p.m. against Navasota on Field 11B, facing Melissa at 4 p.m. on 11A and Falls City at 6 p.m., also on 11A (schedule below).
The top two teams from each pool advance to the championship bracket with games beginning at 9 a.m. Friday on the same field as their pool play. The third and fourth place teams from each pool move to the consolation bracket and play at 8 a.m. Friday, also on the same fields as their pool games.
Stephenville was among the first qualifiers for the tournament, navigating mostly clear waters in pool play before edging Glen Rose, 20-13, in the play-in game at the Gatesville State Qualifying Tournament.
The Yellow Jackets have been forced turned to junior Tyler Schouten, last season’s junior varsity quarterback, to direct the offense has played with the varsity 7-on-7 team since last summer, and was already getting significant reps in several mismatches in Stephenville’s favor. He’s taken all the reps, of course, over the last couple weeks.
The Yellow Jackets are without senior quarterback Easton Jones this week and in the upcoming UIL season. His high school football and basketball careers were cut short when he tore his ulna collateral ligament (UCL) in his right – throwing – elbow while pitching in a select baseball game on June 13.
Tommy John surgery was immediately deemed likely, but after seeking a second opinion the Jones family has opted to try stem cell therapy, which has already begun. They are still weeks from learning if progress is being made. If so, Easton’s father, Troy Jones, a former coach and currently assistant athletic director for operations at Tarleton State University, says there is hope he can return for baseball season. He was named 8-4A district pitcher of the year this spring.
Stephenville has reached the state tournament 13 times including 12 of the past 13 years. The Yellow Jackets qualified for the tournament in its original format back in 1998, competed in Division I six straight years from 2005 through 2010 and missed state in 2011. Stephenville has enjoyed another run of six straight state appearances since moving to Division II after the UIL’s 2012 realignment dropped the school from the state’s second largest conference.
Dublin was among the final teams to qualify, doing so at the Jim Ned Sate Qualifying Tournament just two weekends ago. Down to their last qualifying event and playing in a couple nail biters, it was intense until the end for the Lions, winning 35-29 over Ballinger to punch their ticket. They held on for a 39-33 pool-play victory over Clyde to reach the qualifying game, and also cruised past Anson and Coleman in pool games.
Th Lions have always been in Division II and are making their third appearance in the state tournament, also qualifying in 2013 and 2014.
Thursday Pool Play Schedule (local teams only):
1 p.m. Dublin vs. Liberty (Field 9A)
2 p.m. Stephenville vs. Navasota (11B)
3 p.m. Dublin vs. Rockdale (9B)
4 p.m. Stephenville vs. Melissa (11A)
5 p.m. Dublin vs. San Augustine (9A)
6 p.m. Stephenville vs. Falls City (11A)