State-bound Lions compete in final 7-on-7 Division II SQT Saturday at Tarleton

DERRICK STUCKLY / BROWNWOOD BULLETIN derrick.stuckly@brownwoodbulletin.com
Hayden Day (40) and the Brownwood Lions will compete in the state qualifiers bracket Saturday at the Tarleton 7-on-7 Division SQT in Stephenville.

The state-bound Brownwood Lions will play three warm-up games against fellow tournament entrants Saturday during the Tarleton Division II state qualifying tournament in Stephenville.

The Lions secured their 15th consecutive trip to the 7-on-7 state tournament — to be held this year at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station on July 10-11 — with a 44-27 semifinal victory over the West this past Saturday at the Glen Rose qualifier.

The state qualifiers pool at Tarleton will consist of the Lions, Stephenville, Dublin, Glen Rose, Graham and Abilene Wylie. Brownwood will face only three of those teams with games slated for 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Teams battling to join the six aforementioned state qualifiers will be Whitney, Tolar, Academy and Santo in Pool A; Gatesville, Troy, Merkel and Hamlin in Pool B; Grandview, Eastland, Godley and Sweetwater in Pool C; and Midland Christian, Fort Worth All Saints, Clifton and Canton in Pool D.

Twenty-six berths remain in the 64-team Division II field, and two will be filled by the semifinal winners in Stephenville. The 38 teams — minus Brownwood, Stephenville, Dublin, Glen Rose, Graham and Abilene Wylie — who have already qualified include Argyle, Big Spring, Boerne, Booker, Burnet, Celina, Chapel Hill, China Spring, Crockett, East Bernard, Fairfield, Fort Bend Christian, Gilmer, Kaufman, Houston Kinkaid, Levelland, Lorena, McGregor, Mexia, Geronimo Navarro, Navasota, Pecos, Prairiland, Plano Prestonwood Christian, Princeton, Altair Rice, Robinson, Rockdale, Sealy, Addison Trinity Christian, Waskom and Wimberley.

With a state berth in hand, the Lions will be missing a few of their regular participants this week, which will present the opportunity for even younger players to gain valuable reps.

Through three state qualifiers thus far, the Lions have posted a perfect 8-0 record in pool play. Last week in Glen Rose, the Lions knocked off Palmer, 40-32, and Grandview, 45-14, while Rio Vista no-showed the event. In Brownwood on May 24, the Lions defeated Hamlin (37-20), Snyder (47-14) and Llano (40-0), while at Gatesville on May 31 Brownwood tallied wins over Fort Worth All Saints (32-26), Stephenville (45-40) and Comanche (39-27).

Prior to last week, the Lions suffered their only 7-on-7 losses in semifinal play against Dublin (39-33 in OT at Brownwood) and Boerne (42-26 at Gatesville).

Last week at Glen Rose, the Lions committed only one turnover in three games and completed 70 percent of their pass attempts (65 of 93), with 19 touchdown tosses. Colt Bertrand finished 46 of 65 with 15 touchdowns, while Colt Garrett was 19 of 28 with four scores.

Connor Howard led all receivers with 14 catches, including four touchdowns, while Cory Richardson hauled in 10 receptions with a team-high five trips to the end zone. Brandon Diaz pulled down 10 passes and scored once, while Rylee Gregory finished with nine grabs and four touchdowns. Tristan Duque chipped in eight grabs and two scores, Grant Lewis caught four passes and scored once, Carson Cloy finished with two receptions, and McLane Moore and Rawlings Rios added one catch each — Rios’ for a touchdown.

On the defensive end, the Lions continued to stockpile interceptions as Garrett and Moore picked off two passes each, while Lewis and Diaz added one interception apiece. Diaz returned his pick for six points.