Tigers make final eight
The Tigers’ 7- on-7 team advanced as far as they have ever gone, bowing in the quarterfinals of the championship round of the 7-on-7 state championships at Penberthy Fields on the campus of Texas A&M University Friday.
Rockdale was brushed out of the tournament by Celina 38-28, which went on to capture its fourth 7-on-7 championship by whipping Graham 34-28 on Kyle Field.
Celina had to hold off Rockdale’s district mate Navasota 38-32 in the semifinals.
Plano defeated Manvel 45-28 for the Division I championship.
After being beaten badly in the very first contest of the tournament Thursday, 34-14 by Liberty, the Tigers reeled off four straight victories that propelled them deep into the championship round.
“ The first game we didn’t play real well, but Liberty also made the Elite 8 so they were no slouch,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller who observed from the crowd. “I thought against Ballinger we really started to play well.”
After rallying to qualify by finishing second in its pool to Liberty, Rockdale drove past Port Isabel 27-21 and then Palacios 28-19 in the championship round before falling to Celina, winners of a UIL record eight state championships.
“On Friday, it’s like we had a whole new attitude,” Miller said. “I loved the comradery and the unselfishness. I thought we competed well against Celina. They are an awfully good team.”
The Tigers—0-4 at last year’s tourney—qualified for the championship round in dramatic fashion, nipping Ft. Worth All Saints 31-26 by scoring with 45 seconds left in the contest.
Rockdale quarterback Ethan Brinkley, who passed for 23 touchdowns in the tournament, rifled a pass to Clayton Gibbs, who made a juggling catch in the corner of the end zone for the winning score.
All Saints made the mistake of scoring too quickly on a long pass for a short-lived 26-25 lead and allowing the Tigers time to march down the field.
In a see-saw affair, the lead changed hands three times and was tied three times.
Rockdale leapt out to a 12-0 lead en route to a 25-13 victory over Ballinger in its second pool game.
Brinkley tossed four touchdowns split evenly between Gibbs and Pearce Loth.
In the opening 34-14 loss to Liberty, the Tigers fell behind 20-6 at intermission and never recovered.
Loth and Aust in Caf fey accounted for the scores.
“The way we rallied as a team was fun to watch,” Miller said. “You never know going in, but I think this made us a better team than before we played in the tournament.”
NOTES—This will be the last time that the 7-on-7 championships will be held on the campus of Texas A& M. Southeastern Conference rules prohibit the Aggies from hosting high school athletes and Texas A&M had to get a special waiver to host it this year. Officials are looking into moving it to Veterans Park to keep it in College Station... Adidas provided full uniforms for all 64 teams in the tournament all the way down to a pair of golden football cleats. The estimated value per player was $500... Excell Nelson and Pete Heintze acted as snappers for the Tiger squad... Cameron, coached by former Yoe All-State quarterback
Jack Rhoades (and son of head coach Rick Rhoades), lost in the first round of the championship pool to West Orange Stark... Despite going 2-1, Lexington’s team did not advance to the championship round... Temperatures reached 100 degrees Thursday, but a slight breeze and overcast skies prevented any stifling heat... Approximately 15,000 fans attended the event.