The state 7-on-7 football tournament got started in 1998 with only a handful of teams taking part.
During the last two-plus decades, it has become an event in which nearly every program in Texas participates to some degree.
After a series of qualifying tournaments during the last two months, the best 7-on-7 teams in the state convened at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station on Thursday through Saturday for the state 7-on-7 tournament.
The field featured a handful of area teams, with a few of those, in particular, enjoying their share of success.
One program that's no stranger to thriving in 7-on-7 is Celina, winners of four state championships at the summertime showcase. The Bobcats have qualified for the state tournament every year since 2007 and turned in a productive showing in College Station last week with a 4-1 record over two days of competition.
Competing in the Division II tournament, Celina swept Pool G with competitive wins over Bay City (35-27), Rockdale (27-12) and Dumas (25-19) to book a spot in the championship bracket. The Bobcats outlasted West Orange in a defensive battle, 19-13, before being edged by Ponder in the second round of bracket play, 21-19.
Ponder was one of the surprise stories during the Div. II tourney, yet to record a playoff run in its history on the gridiron. But the Lions turned some heads in College Station with a run all the way to the semifinals.
Celina, meanwhile, hits the homestretch of its offseason with fall practices scheduled to begin on Aug. 1. The Bobcats posted a 12-2 record last season and advanced all the way to the Class 4A Div. II state semifinals but will make the move back to Div. I for the upcoming school year.
Just as Celina is no stranger to success in 7-on-7, Hebron scaled the mountaintop last summer on its way to a Div. I state championship. The Hawks were back in College Station last week and managed a 4-2 showing that included an extended stay in the event's consolation bracket.
Hebron was one of three teams to emerge from Pool B with a 2-1 record, picking up wins over Cinco Ranch (25-19) and Harker Heights (25-21) while falling to Wichita Falls Rider (18-13). The Hawks wound up sharing first place with Rider and Harker Heights, but tiebreakers relegated Hebron to consolation play on Saturday.
The Hawks followed up by going 2-1 in their bracket, cruising past Eisenhower, 35-13, and edging El Paso Eastwood in overtime, 36-34. Hebron's run came to an end in the quarterfinals, however, bested by eventual consolation bracket champion Frisco Wakeland, 28-21.
Lewisville ISD bunkmate Marcus also qualified for state, breaking even at 2-2 for the event. The Marauders' defense has been a catalyst for a productive summer on the 7-on-7 qualifying tournament circuit and that remained the case at least with Marcus holding three of its four opponents to 14 points or less.
The Marauders parlayed that into a 2-1 record in Pool P, bookending a narrow 13-12 loss to A&M Consolidated with wins over Houston Heights (26-24) and Corpus Christi Miller (24-0). Marcus dropped another razor-thin verdict to open championship bracket play on Saturday, however, falling to Trophy Club Byron Nelson, 14-13.
Close games were all the rage for Plano. The Wildcats went 3-3 in their first state tournament appearance since 2017, which included four games decided by a combined six points.
All three of Plano's pool play games fit that bill, eking past Clear Book (14-13) but dropping games of 26-24 to San Angelo Central and 24-22 to Midlothian. The Wildcats made a three-round run in consolation play on Saturday, however, advancing past El Paso Franklin via forfeit and surviving Willis, 26-25. Cinco Ranch ousted the Wildcats in the quarterfinals in a 35-13 ballgame.
McKinney, meanwhile, made its first appearance at the state tournament since 2002. The Lions wound up going 3-1 in Div. I play, impressing with an unbeaten swim through Pool F on Friday with wins over Fort Bend Marshall (26-14), El Paso Coronado (33-27) and three-time defending 6A state champion Austin Westlake (36-28).
McKinney's start to bracket play hit a snag on Saturday, however, with a 26-12 loss to College Station in the first round.
As the Lions build towards what they hope is a bounce-back season in District 5-6A, one team they'll have to contend with is Prosper, which made its second straight appearance in the Div. I state tournament last week. The Eagles had a tougher go during their stay in College Station, dropping all four games played.
Prosper was bested in pool play by Mission (19-7), The Woodlands (25-14) and San Antonio Brandeis (24-12) before falling to Jordan in consolation action, 28-19.