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COLLEGE STATION, Texas — China Spring’s quarterback rolled right, the back pylon pleading the case for a throw its way, and the final verdict: touchdown Cougars.
“You know we came here to make it a game,” a fan yelled as more and more people gathered to watch an intensifying 7-on-7 Adidas Division II state championship game Friday.
The game clock melted past the five-minute warning mark; the Texas sun sweated over the play to come. So what was it going to be: one and the tie or the deuce and the win?
“Are you going for two?” the referee asked.
Up to this point, the Cougars had gone toe-to-toe with the UIL’s 2014 4A Division I state champion Navasota Rattlers. 7-on-7 is rarely as exciting as the regular season. But this game was different.
“Are you going for two?” the ref having to repeat himself due to the chaotic set of circumstances unfolding.
“Yes, we are going for two,” the China Spring quarterback reported. The Cougars sought the win.
The quarterback rolled right again; the conversion play manifested itself along the backline.
But in typical Navasota fashion, the defense stood strong when needed most, albeit in the shadow of China Spring’s wide receivers.
Final score: Navasota 40, China Spring 39.
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The classic game was missing the nation’s recordholder for touchdown catches, Navasota WR Tren’Davian Dickson. He played only one game in the tournament and spent the final moments of his last 7-on-7 season watching.
Dickson stood on the sidelines due to a slight pain in his hamstring.
“It’s good to see them out there winning,” he said of his team.
Dickson said he was especially proud of WR Sammy Blair, a speedster and Arkansas baseball commit.
“He kind of went under the radar last year,” he said, “but since we’ve been little he’s been great. He’s fast, quick, and he can catch; he’s a really great receiver.”
The 7-on-7 game leaves interpretation of an MVP up to the fans. After his multiple touchdown campaign in the championship game, a gathered consensus would’ve named Blair most valuable.
His efforts put the Rattlers up by two touchdowns with less than 10 minutes to go.
“I was just trying to work my routes and get separation between defenders, but I didn’t know it was going to be that big of a game,” Blair said.
China Spring wide receivers were undeniably big, though, and their height over shorter statured Rattler defenders provided them success deep down the middle. That’s an area of the field Burnet’s 6-3, 180-pound wide out Joel Johnson thrived against Navasota a few games earlier.
“We weren’t too sure what they were going to show us,” Johnson said. “When we saw what we saw, we were like ‘let’s go.’”
Navasota took control late in that game, but “we’re a strong team,” Johnson said of how the Bulldogs fared against the state’s best.
“It really helped us see what Navasota was going to look like because I bet we’re going to see them in the playoffs,” he said about the regular season.
The Rattlers reached a perfect record in the fall; Navasota 7-on-7 coach Travis Pierce said their team has only lost one 7-on-7 game this summer.
Division I pool play
College Station upset Cedar Hill 52-33; DeSoto snuck away with three close victories; Manvel beat Mesquite Horn 39-28 in a highly talked about contest; and several other teams wiped away their competition with impeccable route running and passing precision.
Cy Falls won two games and dropped one in their pool play, but linebacker Chibby Imo said, “We use 7-on-7 as an edge to help us prepare for the season.”
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