Division II 7-on-7 Football State Tournament Preview: Seven East Texas Teams Headed to Central Texas
More than a half dozen East Texas teams make the trek to Central Texas the next two days for the Division II 7-on-7 state tournament.
Seven East Texas squads -- Canton, Carthage, Chapel Hill, Crockett, Gilmer, Jasper, and White Oak -- compete in the Division II tournament, which kicks off the weekend's action with pool play at 1 p.m. Thursday at Southwest Williamson County Regional Park in Leander. That will also be the site for the D-I tournament starting at 8 a.m. Friday morning.
The 64-team tournament includes 16 pools. The top two teams in each pool advance to Friday's championship bracket, while the bottom two go to the consolation bracket. The tournament website -- www.txstate7on7.com -- has a full schedule.
TheOldCoach.com's Matt Stepp, one of the state's top 7-on-7 experts, said Carthage is the most likely East Texas team to advance deep into Friday's championship bracket. The Bulldogs, who are the preseason No. 1 team in Class 3A by Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TheOldCoach.com's Friday Night Football, return a 2,800-yard passer (Blake Bogenschutz), a 1,600-yard rusher (Tevin Pipkin), and a pair of receivers (Terian "Tee" Goree and O'Keeron Rutherford) who combined for 25 touchdown receptions in 2012.
"Experience on offense and they've got a quarterback," Stepp noted as reasons for the high expectations surrounding Carthage entering state 7-on-7. "You throw in those kind of weapons in Goree and Rutheford, the matchup nightmare. Pipkin is a fairly good receiver for his position also.
"I think the key for Carthage is how consistent are they gonna be. If Carthage plays up to their potential, they could be playing for a long time on Friday and maybe win the whole thing. Or are they gonna lay an egg? I think they're probably the most talented offensive team in the entire (D-II) tournament."
Rutherford and Goree have terrorized opponents all summer. At 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-3, respectively, UTSA-committed Bogenschutz has had his pick of who to throw to during the Bulldogs' May 25 state qualifier tournament in Diboll and in league play against Marshall and Shreveport Evangel. Goree has five D-I FBS offers, while Rutherford has one.
"(7-on-7) helps us develop a strong chemistry with the receivers that were here last year, as well as the new guys that are learning the routes. The chemistry is very important," Bogenschutz said. "Jakeldrick Jackson (2016) has been the most improved throughout our offseason and we are excited about what he's bringing to our team. Tee and O'Keeron are getting better and better every day. Tevin is back and healthy and will help us have a strong backfield along with Bryian Bolton (2015)."
Carthage plays in Pool N with Gatesville, La Grange, and Sonora. The Dawgs are a heavy favorite in that pool, Stepp said. (Full pool matchups listed below.)
One of the most anticipated pool-play games of the D-II tournament is Gilmer vs. LaMarque, which is 2 p.m. Thursday. The Buckeyes are expected to advance to the championship bracket along with LaMarque, but that game will likely determine which is the No. 1 seed.
Gilmer, which advanced to the Class 3A Division II state championship game in Dec. 2012, is another of the seven East Texas teams that could make some noise Thursday and Friday. The Buckeyes have veterans all over the field in 2014 quarterback Tanner Barr, 2014 Texas A&M-bound tailback/linebacker Josh Walker, 2014 Texas State-committed receiver DeVondrick Dixon, and speedy 2015 athlete Chase Tate. There's also versatile 2015 athlete Kris Boyd, who holds offers from Texas and TCU at cornerback.
"Gilmer and LaMarque is gonna be a really fun game to watch," Stepp said. "I'd pick Gilmer as the favorite in Pool J."
Those two teams join Rockdale and Wellington in their pool.
Stepp said the East Texas sleeper is Chapel Hill. The Bulldogs face Dublin, Port Isabel, and Wimberley in Pool M.
"They have athletes. If their quarterback (senior Andrew Black) is throwing the ball well, I think Chapel Hill is a team that could make some noise as a sleeper," Stepp said. "They got a somewhat favorable draw. The (championship) bracket could set up favorable enough for them to get to the round of 16 if they can get out of their pool. I think the pool shakes out pretty nicely for them."
Three key players for Chapel Hill will be two-way standout Joseph Clark -- a 2014 recruit with three D-I FBS offers -- as well as classmates D.D. Mumphrey (defensive back) and Wesley Thompson (linebacker/safety).
Stepp said Pool E could set up favorably for junior quarterback Chandler Eiland and Canton, which will face Glen Rose, East Bernard, and Alpine in pool play.
Pool K houses two East Texas teams: Crockett and Jasper. The two Bulldogs teams join Boerne and pool favorite Graham.
"Jasper will be in a battle to get to the winner's bracket," Stepp said.
White Oak played well during June league play in Longview and faces Columbus, Crane, and McGregor in Pool B. The Roughnecks have plenty of weapons for senior quarterback Dylan Gale, although senior receiver Jansen McCurdy, who was typically White Oak's best big-play target in June, will be unavailable because of a club baseball tournament in Arizona. That could mean more balls to receivers such as 2014 targets Hayden Nichols or Gabe Michael.
As for Carthage, Bogenschutz said the Dawgs are more than ready for the state tournament.
"We are excited about the opportunity to get out there and compete Thursday and Friday," he said. "Should be a great experience."
Division II 7-on-7 Football State Tournament
Southwest Williamson County Regional Park, Leander
- Dallas Episcopal
- Fort Worth All Saints
- Houston Westbury Christian
- White Oak
- Cameron Yoe
- Houston Kinkaid
- Wills Point
- East Bernard
- Glen Rose
- Abilene Wylie
- Midland Christian
- College Station
- Chapel Hill
- Port Isabel
- Houston Episcopal
- Iowa Park
- Rice Consolidated