CELINA — Melissa swept four-straight games on Saturday at Old Celina Park to qualify for the Texas State 7on7 tournament for the 12th time in 13 years. This was the Cardinals’ last chance to make the 2019 tourney after coming up short in three previous state qualifying tournaments (SQTs).
In Saturday’s pool play, the Cards routed Bonham, 39-0; rallied to beat Paris, 34-32; and thumped Frisco Heritage, 34-12, before easing by Pilot Point, 27-26, in the bracket championship. This year’s state tournament is slated for June 27-29 at College Station.
Melissa is led again by co-head coaches Fred Lewis and Paul Anderson.
“We struggled all year,” Anderson said. “I think they kind of just finally came together. Maybe the rest of the season will be a lot better. … I think the offense is pretty much the same as what we had last year. Of course, losing [graduated senior] Kennedy Lewis hurts a lot. I think we’ll be alright.”
“I’m very proud of their effort,” Fred Lewis said. “They came out here knowing that this was our last opportunity to qualify and they stepped up. The competition was good. It’s always questionable on the last day. The teams that came out here today were really trying to get to the state tournament.”
“We knew we had it in us,” Cards quarterback Brendon Lewis said. “We just had to just play the way we knew we could play. … All my teammates, they work really hard. We’re going to have a good chance [at state].”
Ezra Monroe batted away Pilot Point’s extra-point try in the game’s final minute to preserve the win. “We want to win and I think we have a lot of firepower,” Monroe said. “We’re going to be missing Kennedy but I think we’ll be really good.” As for the Cards’ four wins this day, Monroe said, “It just shows the heart that we have in Melissa.”
Tyler Burton’s long catch-and-run for a TD gave the Cards a 27-20 lead in the title game after trailing, 20-13, in the second half. “We were definitely cutting it close,” Burton said of this year’s push for state. “I wish we had qualified earlier and it wasn’t so stressful. But we came out here and did what we were supposed to do and our team held it together. … Brendon is amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better quarterback than him.”
Texas State 7on7 began in 1998, with all classifications playing in one division through 2006. The game went to two divisions in 2007, and in 2018 Division III was introduced.
Melissa competes in Division II which includes Class 3A-D1 and 4A schools. Class 5A and 6A schools make up Division I while Division III is comprised of Class 1A through 3A-D2.
The Cards won the state Division II title in 2011 with a 27-0 victory over Kincaid.
Texas State 7on7 is a private organization with no ties to the UIL or the Texas High School Coaches Association. High school coaches may not coach their teams or stand on the sidelines during games.
Played on a 45-yard field with 20-minute running-clock halves, the game is all-pass, one-hand touch and the quarterback has four seconds to throw the ball. No pads or worn but this year for the first time, state-tournament participants will be required to wear soft-shell helmets. Next year, soft shells will be required for all SQTs as well.
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2019 Texas State 7on7 Tournament
Division II-III: Thursday, June 27 – Friday, June 28
Division I: Friday, June 28 – Saturday, June 29
Veterans Park and Athletic Complex
3101 Harvey Road
College Station, Texas