East Texas Players to Watch at This Weekend’s Division II 7-on-7 Football State Tournament
Seven East Texas teams compete in the Division II 7-on-7 football state tournament starting Thursday at Southwest Williamson County Regional Park in Leander.
Here’s a quick look at some of the players to watch from those teams — Canton, Carthage, Chapel Hill, Crockett, Gilmer, Jasper, and White Oak — during this weekend’s event, which starts Thursday morning and ends Friday afternoon.
For full pool-play matchups, click here.
Senior Blake Bogenschutz enters his third season as Carthage's starting quarterback, while senior Tevin Pipkin does the same at running back. But one of Carthage's greatest strengths on a veteran offense is the receiver position.
Senior Terian "Tee" Goree caught 66 passes for more than 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2012, when classmate O'Keeron Rutherford grabbed 43 balls for 599 yards and eight scores. During the past several weeks, Rutherford has been unstoppable in 7-on-7 action, including a four-touchdown performance in one of Carthage's league-play routs of Shreveport Evangel.
Rutherford's 6-foot-6 frame leaves defenders virtually helpless in red-zone and goal-line situations. Then there's the 6-foot-3 Goree on the other side, who is a matchup nightmare in his own right, especially when he has a lot of field to work with to separate from defenders. Inside receivers Keldrean Strong (2014) and Jakeldrick Jackson (2016) have also impressed, while Pipkin and Bryian Bolton (2015) have proven valuable as receivers out of the backfield.
Carthage has not lost in 7-on-7 this summer, going 4-0 at the May 25 Diboll state qualifier tournament and beating Marshall and Evangel during June league play at Bulldog Stadium.
Tanner Barr, Sr., QB/S, Gilmer
After picking off 10 passes from his safety spot as a sophomore, Tanner Barr took over starting quarterback duties in 2012, leading Gilmer to the Class 3A Division II state championship game.
He's been solid all summer during 7-on-7, including Gilmer's state qualifier tournament performance June 15 at Buckeye Stadium that saw the Buckeyes snag a state spot with a 4-0 run.
Barr has a bevy of playmakers on which he can rely. Two-way senior standout Josh Walker, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound Texas A&M commitment at linebacker, is a tough matchup out of the backfield, while senior receiver and Texas State pledge DeVondrick Dixon could be another big receiving playmaker for Gilmer this fall. There's also junior athlete Chase Tate, a speedster that the Buckeyes can line up at a variety of spots.
Dylan Gale, Sr., QB, White Oak
White Oak had an impressive June in the Longview 7-on-7 league at Lobo Stadium behind an efficient offense led by senior quarterback Dylan Gale.
Senior Jansen McCurdy has consistently been Gale's top receiver, including a six-touchdown performance during a two-game span June 3 in victories against Longview's A team and Gladewater. But McCurdy will be in Arizona this week playing club baseball, so the Roughnecks are in trouble, right?
Gale has more than only McCurdy to work with. Although McCurdy frequently supplied the Roughnecks' big-play potential, Hayden Nichols' 6-foot-4 frame makes him a tough matchup for most defensive backs. Jake Pullen, Josh Benson, Gabe Michael, Riley Lakin, and Cass Carr give the Roughnecks plenty of talent at the skill and defensive back positions.
Chapel Hill's secondary
Similar to cross-town Class 4A school John Tyler, Chapel Hill's secondary should be perhaps the Bulldogs' biggest strength at this weekend's Division II state tournament.
Senior safety/linebacker Joseph Clark is the target of multiple Division I schools, including Texas Tech, which recently offered the physical 5-foot-9, 175-pounder. Clark also doubles as a capable playmaker on offense.
Defensive back D.D. Mumphrey is also big (6-0, 184) and physical, the latter of which might not lend itself to 7-on-7 play but will definitely please coach Thomas Sitton this fall. Then there's the super-athletic Wesley Thompson, who plays mostly at linebacker but is athletic enough at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds to run a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at the ETSN.fm Football Recruiting Combine on May 19 at APEC training facility in Tyler. Thompson could play safety at the next level.
Chandler Eiland, Jr., QB, Canton
Canton was one of the final East Texas teams to qualify for state, snagging a state berth June 29 in Boyd during the final weekend of SQTs.
Junior signal caller Chandler Eiland spearheaded the effort and is back for the Eagles after throwing for more than 2,000 yards and rushing for 600-plus as a sophomore. If he has a big weekend, Canton could get out of its pool and into Friday's championship bracket.
Shawn Jones, Sr., TE/LB, Jasper
Jasper was East Texas' first team to qualify for either 7-on-7 state tournament. The Bulldogs went 4-0, including a 27-22 championship game win against Kountze, at the D-II 7-on-7 state qualifier tournament May 18 in Jasper.
One of the Bulldogs' key contributors on both sides of the ball could be senior Shawn Jones, who plays tight end and 3-4 outside linebacker for the Bulldogs during the regular season. A player with that kind of versatility could prove valuable in 7-on-7 action at the state level.
Other names to remember for Jasper include quarterback Steven Walker and athletes Chris Spikes and Daniel Adams.