Lovejoy went 1-2 in pool play at the Division I state 7-on-7 tournament last weekend in College Station and qualified for the consolation bracket, losing a close game to Wilson, 31-28, in what was the Leopards’ final match.
The Leopards started the tournament with a 27-20 win over Edinburg North on Friday, but dropped its next two pool games to Bush and A&M Consolidated to finish in third place. The top two teams from each pool qualified for the championship bracket.
The top team from Lovejoy’s bracket, Bush, advanced to the quarterfinals of the championship bracket before losing to Waxahachie.
Lovejoy head coach Todd Ford said he was pleased with his team’s performance at the state tournament, especially considering the level of competition in the Leopards’ particular pool.
“We got behind the scoreboard with Bush and were playing catch-up with them the whole game, but A&M Consolidated was a back-and-forth game, and we had a chance to tie it on the last play,” Ford said. “That was really one of those games where whoever had the ball last had the best chance of winning. But both [Bush and A&M Consolidated] made runs in the championship bracket, and I really thought we played them well.”
The Leopards’ game with Wilson was on Saturday morning, a set up that Ford said was “an adjustment” for his team after playing three games on Friday.
“Playing on a Saturday morning after playing Friday night is not something we normally do in the spring or summer,” he said. “I thought we handled it well. It was a close game, and I was really pleased with our defense. We got some key stops when we needed to.”
Lovejoy qualified for the state tournament with a win over Rowlett two weeks ago in the Rowlett state qualifying tournament. The Leopards qualified despite a roster that was less than full strength, but Ford took the same group that qualified at Rowlett to the state tournament. That continuity was on display, as Lovejoy was competitive in every game it played except against Bush.
Ford emphasized the importance of 7-on-7 all summer – especially for his young quarterback, junior Carson Collins, who will be starting his second year of varsity football in August. The more reps his receivers, quarterbacks and defensive backs could receive, the better, he said.
“It helps for the development of our program, it helps the kids play against some top-level competition, and I think it sets the target for July as being a key month,” Ford said. “We’ll continue our summer training program, of which we have four weeks left. We’ll continue to raise the intensity of those programs. I’m very pleased with how our team looked in June.”
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