One of the first teams in Texas to qualify for the Division I 7-on-7 state tournament, Hebron was the last one standing on Saturday in College Station.
The Hawks went unbeaten over two days of competition at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex — polishing off an 8-0 run with a 28-26 victory over Lake Travis to capture their first-ever state 7-on-7 championship.
As a program, Hebron is no stranger to that stage. The Hawks were making their 18th appearance at the Div. I state tournament — only six high schools in the state have made more trips to the event. Similar experience helped this particular group scale the mountaintop on Saturday.
“Most of those kids have been playing 7-on-7 together since they were freshmen,” said Brian Brazil, Hebron head coach. “They’ve been out there grinding together from the time they got out of middle school. They’ve spent lots of weekends and lots of tournaments together.”
Hebron booked its trip to College Station early on, going undefeated in four games played on May 8 at a state-qualifying tournament in Plano. Although that marked the Hawks’ only SQT appearance of the summer, the program stayed active.
In addition to a weekly league against The Colony, Wylie and Prestonwood Christian — the lattermost winning the TAPPS state 7-on-7 championship on Saturday — Hebron found success playing in numerous out-of-state 7-on-7 tournaments. The Hawks won events held at Northwestern State and Midwestern State and finished second in a showcase at LSU.
“They just like going around and being together. There’s a good, supportive group of parents and a really good brotherhood amongst those players,” Brazil said. “They love and care about each other. It was very rewarding because they’ve put in a lot of work. Sometimes you can put in a lot of effort and not see the fruits of your labor come out, but it did for these guys.”
Hebron continued its winning ways in College Station. The Hawks swept Friday’s round of pool games, eking out victories over Atascocita (28-25) and Beaumont West Brook (20-14) before cruising past Azle (32-7). In Saturday’s bracket play, Hebron picked up wins over Richmond Foster (34-6), Spring (26-13), Killeen Harker Heights (27-21) and College Station (33-28) prior to squaring off with state powerhouse Lake Travis.
Against the Cavaliers, the Hawks led the start to finish. The connection between quarterback Jacob Buniff and receivers Cobye Baldwin and Takoda Bridges hummed all tournament long and accounted for touchdowns on each of Hebron’s first four drives in the championship game. Brazil lauded the timeliness of his club’s contributions all over.
“Just seeing different kids making plays,” he said. “Koda Bridges and Cobye Baldwin made so many plays, but then you’ve got guys like Case Holleron coming up with a big first-down catch or Matthew Howard making a big interception.”
In the end, the Hawks staved off a late charge by Lake Travis, which scored with no time remaining to cut Hebron’s lead to 28-26. Attempting a two-point conversion to send the game into overtime, the Cavaliers’ pass sailed incomplete.
“It helps bring a lot of confidence for those guys and helps them with managing in-game situations and stuff like that,” Brazil said. “Of course, it isn’t real football but there’s still plenty of throwing and catching and defending it. There are skills and techniques used to play football, but I think the main thing is the competition part of it. For that, you’re proud to see what the kids put into it and how they were able to make it happen.”
Brazil lauded his program’s conduct throughout the tournament. The head coach called back to the team’s prior appearance at the event in 2019 when Hebron was disqualified following a postgame altercation with Mission Pioneer.
“That was definitely a black mark and, although none of the kids on this team were down there when that happened, our guys used that as motivation to work harder on representing with class, toughness, discipline and doing things the right way,” Brazil said. “These kids are about that and they’ve established a winning attitude about playing 7-on-7. You want that to carry over to everything they do in life, not just in football and 7-on-7.”
Lone Star makes run to semifinals
Frisco ISD was represented at the state 7-on-7 tournament by a pair of representatives as Lone Star and Wakeland were both in action.
Both the Rangers and Wolverines qualified for the championship bracket thanks to their efforts in pool play on Friday.
Lone Star won Pool L by compiling an undefeated 3-0 record. The Rangers rolled over Laredo United South in a 32-14 win in their opener. They followed that up with a couple of closer contests, topping Port Neches-Groves for a 28-20 victory and then edging Richmond Foster, 26-21.
Wakeland did not get through Pool C unscathed, but they did enough in winning two of their three games to qualify for the championship bracket.
The Wolverines opened with a 20-13 win over El Paso Eastwood. They ran into a roadblock in the form of Spring in their next game, suffering a 24-6 loss, but bounced back with a 20-12 victory over Georgetown.
With bracket play starting on Saturday, Lone Star claimed a 27-19 win over Azle in the opening round, with Wakeland earning a 20-7 victory against Wylie East.
That brought about a head-to-head meeting between the city rivals, with the Rangers coming out on top, 31-13.
Lone Star carried that momentum over into the third round, topping Katy Tompkins for a 27-20 win to advance to the semifinals.
There, the Rangers battled tough, but Lake Travis was able to emerge with a 29-20 victory to end their run.
Mesquite ISD, Garland ISD look to next year
Local 7-on-7 teams from MISD and GISD have been well-represented at the state tournament over the years, and while nearly every program competed in qualifying events, Garland was the only team to make it to state.
Each of the five MISD teams has previously qualified and North Mesquite won the state championship in the event’s second year back in 1999. That was one of five appearances for the Stallions, with the last one coming in 2006.
Horn leads all MISD programs with seven state berths all of which came from 2012-2019. Mesquite has six appearances, followed by West Mesquite with five and Poteet with four.
Sunnyvale qualified in the Division II bracket in 2018 and 2019 and they made the most of the latter trip, bringing home the state championship.
Rowlett and Sachse have been among the most consistent playoff teams in the area in the fall, but that has not always translated to success in 7-on-7. The Eagles have just one appearance back in 2015, while the Mustangs’ lone trip was in 2018.