Once again, Tigers look to hook that big catch

7-on-7 perfect venue to find reliable receivers

Reporter/Bill Martin Reporter/Bill Martin COLLEGE STATION—Last year’s 7- on- 7 compet it ion turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Rockdale’s squad.

Unforseen personnel changes hampered the Tigers’ running attack and they were forced to take to the air.

Due almost directly to impressive acrobatic catches in 7-on-7 play, Cody Skubal— who had not played since junior high—emerged as a star and set several school records on his way to all-state recognition during the 2011 season.

This year, the Tigers are prepared to pass.

“Even going into last year we didn’t know how much we were going to throw, because we weren’t a team that threw 40 or 50 times a game,” Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller said. “But as it went on, it was obvious we were going to have to pass the ball a lot.”

Senior-to-be quarterback Ethan Brinkley is poised to become Rockdale’s all-time leading passer this season.

“In the past we’ve had to come up with a playbook just for 7- on-7,” Miller said. “We’re just running our offense this year and that means more to me because we can just run our system.”

Different from past summers, besides qualifying tournaments

Pool D
Time Teams Field
1 p.m.—Rockdale vs. Liberty B
Ft. Worth All Saints vs. Ballinger A
3 p.m.—Rockdale vs. Ballinger B
Ft. Worth All Saints vs. Liberty A
5 p.m.—Rockdale vs. All Saints A
Ballinger vs. Liberty B

What—7-on-7 State Tournament, Division II (1A-3A)
When—Thursday-Friday, July
19-20. Pool play begins Thursday at 1 p.m. The top two
teams from each four-team
pool will advance to the championship

round on Friday.
Where—Penberthy Fields on
the campus of Texas A&M.
Who—64 teams who have
Teams qualified—Ballinger,
Brownwood, Cameron,
Carthage, Celina, Childress,
Comanche, Crandall, East
Bernard, Fairfield, Gatesville,
Glen Rose, Graham, Midland
Greenwood, Lago Vista, Lexington, Liberty, Lone Star,
Lorena, McGregor, Merkel,
Navasota, Nevada, Palacios,
Pecos, Princeton, Quanah,
Rice, Somerset, Springtown,
St. Pius, Stephenville, West
Orange, Worthing, Abilene
Rockdale appearances—
2005, 2007, 2008, 2009,
2011, 2012.

Backup quarterback Clayton Gibbs has received invaluable time at quarterback because of extended 7-on-7 competition. 
Reporter/Bill Martin Backup quarterback Clayton Gibbs has received invaluable time at quarterback because of extended 7-on-7 competition. Reporter/Bill Martin on weekends, the Tigers’ 7-on-7 team has been participating in a league on Monday nights in Thorndale with Thorndale, Rogers, Granger and Cameron.

“Even though we have two starters coming back and two other veterans, we’re still looking for two more receivers and other contributors at receiver. So that extra work is important.”

While Skubal emerged as an all-state calibur wide receiver, this year’s candidate may be sophomore-to-be Pearce Loth.

The 6-foot-4, 175-pound Loth has proven in competition this summer he has the ability to become a go-to guy.

“Pearce does a great job of using both hands and his body to catch the ball,” said Miller. “He’s a great athlete.”

While Loth’s size may make him a potential tight end someday, right know, he’s a receiver.

“We feel like he’s talented enough to get out there and match up with cornerbacks,” Miller said.

As a freshman last season, Loth was slated to move up to the varsity, but a broken leg ended his season.

He has already drawn comparisons to Skubal.

“There are some similarities between him and Cody,” said Miller. “They are both great basketball players and are used to using their body to get position.

“They both also use their height and jumping ability to get to the ball.”

Because of the extended play, the Tigers have been able to take a look at more kids and backup quarterback Clayton Gibbs—also a starting receiver—has received invaluable time throwing the ball around.

“Clayton has certainly gotten more snaps at quarterback and that’s important.”

Tourney talk

Rockdale is positioned in Pool D with Ft. Worth All Saints, Liberty and Ballinger.

The Tigers open with Liberty at Field B at 1 p.m. They will then face Ballinger at 3 p.m. and All Sainmts at 5 p.m.

The Tigers’ went 0-3 in last year’s pool play.

In the 14-year history of the 7-on-7 competition, Rockdale has made five straight trips to the state tournament (they did not field a team in 2010) and six overall since 2005.

The 7-on-7 state tournament consists of 64 teams from throughout the state that can earn a trip to state through 31 qualifying tournaments held at various high school sites in May, June and July.

There are two divisions: I (Class 4A-5A) and II (Class 1A-3A).

State is held July 19-20 in College Station at Penberthy Fields on the campus of Texas A&M University.

Championship games are played at Kyle Field.

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