Some folks say 7-on-7 football has absolutely no correlation to 11-man football, while others believe a successful 7-on-7 program only leads to good things when the pads are strapped on in August.
I’m not here today trying to make a case for either idea, but I do want to share a few thoughts about Jacksonville Indian football, having witnessed the Tribe going 3-1 and advancing into the semi-finals of the Tyler 7-on-7 State Qualifying tournament last Saturday.
Weather you like or dislike the 7-on-7 game, Indians fans have got to LOVE the effort and the results the young men achieved in Tyler.
To not just go undefeated in pool play, but to come from behind — very reminiscent of what some people around town called the “Cardiac Kids” of 2009 — to win each of these games says a lot in itself about not only the skills, but the desire and the heart of these young warriors.
After Jacksonville chalked up a relatively easy 35-21 win over Greenville in the Tribe’s first game of the day, the Indians received their first big test of day — a test they passed with flying colors, too.
Against a very athletic A & M Consolidated unit that is predicted by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine to win District 12-5A this year, the Indians fought back from a 13-0 deficit to open the game and a 25-13 shortfall in the second half to post a 34-25 victory.
And while most 7-on-7 stats are focused on quarterbacks and receivers, in this game it was the fact the Tribe recorded four interceptions (two by Cody Bolton and one apiece from Dexter Davis and Darrell Minifee) that really opened some eyes.
In almost identical fashion to the A & M Consolidated game, Jacksonville got behind 12-0 early to Saginaw Boswell in their final skirmish in pool play, only to bounce back to take the lead at 20-18.
The Pioneers, a predicted playoff team out of District 5-4A, came back to regain the advantage in the see-saw affair before Jacksonville finally nailed down the win when Ryan Black found Tradarreon Moreland from 13 yards out with 1:25 left in the game, giving the Tribe a dramatic 45-40 victory.
For you statistical connoisseurs, Black went 26-of-36 (1 interception) for 348 yards and seven touchdowns in the game against the Pioneers.
Although the Tribe never led in the semi-final game against Tyler Lee (Class 5A), and the Indians even found themselves behind by two touchdowns at halftime, they never gave up — Lee and Jacksonville each scored one touchdown each in the defense-dominated final segment.
And how easy it would have been to fold the tent early, trailing a 5-A powerhouse by two scores at the break after being on the field for about four hours as the mercury approached triple digits under a sweltering East Texas summer sun.
In fact, trailing by their biggest margin of the day, 32-14, a Black to Tevin Garland pass netted Jacksonville the final score of the game that came with 1:22 to go.
A meaningless touchdown?
No way, a very important one when looking at the team that will take the field for two-a-days in early August.
Another thing — a good thing — that must be pointed out is despite playing some formidable competition, for the most part, in sizzling temperatures with very little recovery time, the Indians kept their cool, in victories and in their defeat.
No trash talking or rough-unnecessary contact that ended Jacksonville’s final 7-on-7 pool play game a year ago early when the officials halted play due to too much of the uncalled for stuff taking place on the field.
The Indians won with class and dignity and lost in the same fashion.
Great job guys; I can’t wait for the fall!