Gilmer + Canton Move On To The Division II Championship Bracket At State 7-on-7 Tournament
COLLEGE STATION -- Here in this centralized environment, it doesn't make a difference if your team hails from Waskom or El Paso.
The top performing teams in various state qualifying 7-on-7 tournaments from the new Class 4A level all the way down to TAPPS converged at Veterans Park and Athletics Complex on Thursday, about two miles from Texas A&M's campus.
Gilmer and Boerne will never meet during the 2014 UIL football season. The Buckeyes will participate in the new Class 4A Division II while the usually solid Greyhounds -- with Tennessee quarterback verbal commitment Quinten Dormady -- are on the move to Class 4A Division I.
That helped draw general fan interest into their scheduled middle matchup within Pool L in the Division II 7-on-7 tournament, a game Gilmer won 45-34 en route to an appearance in the championship bracket beginning at 9 a.m.
"It feels good," Buckeyes defensive back Demarco Boyd said. "These teams are obviously the best ones in the state and we're one of them. For us to be where we are right now, it's probably a good sign for this football season."
Boyd swung the game with an early interception against the future Volunteers' quarterback.
Boerne was closing in on the game's first touchdown when the Gilmer standout jumped the route and tipped the ball to himself on a pass from Dormady in the end zone.
Buckeyes quarterback McLane Carter, who has no scholarship offers, guided the squad to a touchdown five plays later.
Carter finished the 40-minute game with 26 completed passes on just 35 attempts for more than 315 yards. He was on the throwing end for all seven of Gilmer's touchdowns in the pass-only affair.
"We didn't get any extra point conversions in the first half and that's a big, big thing in 7-on-7," Carter said. "We've got to get those conversions. But we came out strong. We got beat on some deep balls, but we kept on coming back at them. I'm proud of the team that we executed like that.
"Those conversions can translate to anything, really. You've got field goals in real football, but in crucial situations you've got to execute. It's good to have this and learn while competing."
A sobering thought is Dormady had no trouble working over one of Gilmer's cornerbacks for big chunks of yardage, including two touchdown throws the length of the 45-yard field.
On the same hand, Gilmer athlete Kris Boyd was unavailable to work at a cornerback spot because he has been in Oregon participating in Nike and ESPN's The Opening national high school football combine. He will fly back from the Northwest early Friday morning into College Station and should be with the team when it opens up single-elimination play against Stafford.
"He's just going to play," Demarco Boyd said of Kris Boyd. "It's going to feel better because we'll have another person to go to. He'll play on both sides and help the offense, too. Cornerback, playing that, will be good. Just having him will probably put the team in a better place."
Dormady's first long bomb put the Greyhounds on top, 13-12. The second 45-yard pass cut Gilmer's lead down to 32-28.
Carter answered back with his own 45-yard touchdown throw immediately after the second Boerne home run shot to expand the Buckeye lead back out to 38-28. It turned out to be the game-winning score.
Gilmer's signal caller connected for one more touchdown throw to give the Buckeyes a 45-34 lead. Boerne got a cosmetic score at the very end of the game.
The Buckeyes opened state 7-on-7 play with a 36-20 win against Sweetwater. A 33-24 win over Cuero after the Boerne game gave Gilmer the pool's first-place spot.
Sweetwater was the second and final team to advance out of the pool.
Boerne and Cuero have been relegated to Friday's consolation bracket.
"My goal is to come out here and execute," Carter said. "I want to do what my coaches tell me to do. We've practiced a lot for this and I do everything I can to make us win."
Count Canton In
Canton put together a strong performance in its first state 7-on-7 game on the way to a 39-12 win against Brownwood. It subsequently advanced into the championship bracket alongside Gilmer, Chapel Hill, Crockett and Waskom.
Eagles quarterback Chandler Eiland, a Louisiana-Monroe verbal commitment, passed for six touchdowns and more than 300 yards in the opening win. He completed 22 of 35 passes with one interception, a nice percentage of about 63 percent against a defense that didn't have to respect an outlawed running game.
"That's always what I want to do," the quarterback said. "I like to throw more than run. I hope to get that many passes in a game, actually. That's what we're shooting for and what we're talking about. Maybe a little more than that and a little better, but that's a pretty good completion percentage for that many passes."
After holding Brownwood on the first series of the game, Eiland found receiver Garrett Denbow for an intermediate touchdown completion and a 7-0 lead after a three-yard extra point conversion.
Canton went up 14-0 on Denbow's second touchdown reception of the game before Brownwood got on the board for a 14-6 halftime deficit.
"I've been ready to play for a while," Denbow said. "We think that we can win. We're underdogs, but I feel like if I do my part that there's no limit."
The Eagles kicked it up in the second half with Eiland finding even more of a rhythm.
Canton's quarterback connected for three second half touchdowns, including a third snag for Denbow and a scoring pass to North Texas bound defensive end Samuel Miller at the tight end position.
Eiland's squad ultimately exited Pool I play with a perfect 3-0 record. It will face Trinity Christian at 9 a.m. in its first single-elimination game.
"It's awesome being down here," the future Louisiana-Monroe signal caller said. "We're really thankful and blessed to be down here. We're facing some great teams."