Sweeny and Columbia will compete in pool play today at the Texas State 7-on-7 Championships in College Station looking to advance to Friday’s championship bracket play in Division II.
The Bulldogs are making their third appearance at the state tournament while the Roughnecks qualified for the event for the first time this season.
Sweeny went to the state tournament last season and in 2017. Last year, the Bulldogs advanced to the championship bracket, but lost in the first round to Goliad.
“They are looking pretty good,” Sweeny 7-on-7 coach Donovan Banks said. “They are all athletes. They can all make plays and they all work hard. I feel like they will be better than last year, for sure.”
The Bulldogs earned their way into the state tournament by winning a qualifier in Needville on June 1. Sweeny defeated Bay City 30-27 in the qualifying game. In pool play, the Bulldogs defeated Stratford, 38-32, Hitchcock, 44-20, and lost to Sealy, 28-24.
“They just stayed together,” Banks said. “They didn’t argue with each other. I told them they couldn’t get mad at each other. They just have to keep playing. I feel like going into state, they are going to play hard and they aren’t going to give up at all. These boys can ball for how young they are.”
This year’s team is led by quarterback Trey Robbins, with Trey Fields, Justice Clemons and Justin Garner taking on the role of playmaker.
“There are a lot of them that can make plays,” Banks said. “They are physical.”
Clemons and Fields were on last year’s state qualifying team.
In pool play today, the Bulldogs will face Marion at 2 p.m., China Spring at 4 p.m. and Celina at 6 p.m.
Celina has won four state 7-on-7 championships, its last coming in 2012.
“I expect them to go out there and work hard and play together and win it all,” Banks said. “I have never heard of the schools we are playing against, but I am not worried about it. We are going to go out there and do what we have to do and get the dub.”
Other members of the Sweeny team are Calon Amey, Hogan Ashford, Treylan Austin, Cade Brewer, Cody Morris, Randall Forrest, Julius Hanks, Trace Holmes, Pristine Hysten, Tyler Mills, Jayden Ward, Dylan White, Caden Wilhelm, Xavier Woods and Mason Taylor.
Columbia only began competing in 7-on-7 three seasons ago when this year’s seniors were sophomores. The Roughnecks just missed making the state tournament last year, but were one of the first teams to qualify this year.
“It has been a battle,” Columbia 7-on-7 coach Calvin Ward said. “It just started here three years ago. We didn’t qualify that first year, came close last year and this year qualified right off the bat. Some of those guys have been on the journey for three years.”
The Roughnecks qualified for the state tournament at their own qualifying event May 18 at Griggs Field. In pool play, Columbia defeated Bay City 41-0, El Campo, 44-34 and lost to Wharton, 44-35.
Columbia defeated Navasota, 37-22, in the semifinals before avenging their pool play loss to Wharton with a 40-36 victory.
“The guys, they are excited,” Columbia 7-on-7 coach Calvin Ward said. “They have made history. They are excited about it and they are ready to do well.”
Leading the team this season are quarterback Cameron Ward, along with receivers William Carlson, Jalen Austin and Sultan Abdullah.
“The primary playmaker has been Carlson, our senior receiver and defensive back,” Ward said. “He works out with Cameron all the time, on weekends, pretty hard so he has a lot of confidence. Austin has been a key receiver and Abdullah, he should get in on the action this weekend, also.”
In pool play today, the Roughnecks face Dumas at 2 p.m., Midlothian Heritage at 4 p.m. and Rio Hondo at 6 p.m.
Heritage won last year’s Division II tournament.
“I don’t know anything about them except what I have read,” Ward said. “One of those teams won it last year. That is good for us. That is what we want as coaches for the guys, to play the best competition there. That is what we want.”
Other members of the Roughneck team are Jabari Mack, Isayah Rhodes, Dez Fields, Richie Garza, Jamaurion Woodard, Jarrett Donley, Dylan Bauer, Trevon Gee, Mark Booze, Jordan Woodard and Mitchell McGaughey.