Ever since 7-on-7 ramped up in Texas in the late 1990s, Celina has been a staple at the state tournament each year.
Once again, the Bobcats are state-bound later this month, but will first host its annual Celina Division II SQT this weekend.
Familiar faces such as Melissa and Aubrey will be in town while over a dozen others make the trip to Celina with a berth at state on the line. The Celina Record caught up with Bobcats’ head coach Bill Elliott this week on the upcoming tournament, his squad’s successes and more as things begin to heat up this summer.
It’s another year and another state qualifying summer for Celina in 7-on-7. What has been that recipe for success?
Elliott:A lot of it is just tradition and expectations. Our kids expect to be there and show up to play at a high level because they know that’s what the expectation is. They know what all the teams before them have done and have a great desire to do that.
The chemistry on the team this year is also really good. How they help each other, encourage one another and play together makes them a really special group also.
With you guys hosting the Celina SQT this weekend, what is the main focus of the program since the Bobcats have already qualified for state?
Elliott:It’s just practice. It’s a great time to get some conditioning against some other teams, and it allows us to come in and just keep working.
We have a league that we do on Monday nights, but this weekend will help us get into that atmosphere of what it will be like down at state. In our league nights we only play 25-minute games, whereas they are 40 in the tournament games. They call things a little bit tighter in the state qualifiers than they do in our league, so it’s a great time of preparation for what is in store for us in two weeks.
Who are some of the teams competing this weekend in Celina that are among the standouts to punch a ticket to state?
Elliott:Melissa will be a very talented team. Godley has a wide receiver that is already committed to Texas Tech and is about 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. There will be some good teams with some really good competition and it’s going to be a good little tournament.
Which Bobcats have really stood out this spring/summer and expected to be key players at the state tournament?
Elliott:Of course, Hunter Watson will be our quarterback, and he has done a great job leading the show there. Logan Point is back at running back and those two guys have really stood out for us.
DJ Dell’Anno has stepped up. He was on the junior varsity last year and moved him up for the playoffs last year, and he has become a great target to throw to at 6-foot-6. You can sometimes just throw it up to him, and there are not a whole bunch of people that can defend that.
Isaiah Martinez is a kid that has been through a lot of struggle this year with the passing of his mom about three weeks ago. Getting him back in the program and getting him back involved has been really good. He is a heck of a player. He was an all-district soccer player and will be a huge contributor for us this year.