With a pair of 7-on-7 state championships on the mantle already, Celina will enter the fall 3A football season in a great position as a current state champion in 7-on-7 action and a state finalist during the 2008 gridiron season.
The Bobcats also have a proud tradition of winning state each December after capturing a 7-on-7 title in July.
Only time will tell. They will have to do it with only one major college recruit on the team, according coaches and fans.
“Our kids work hard, work hard together and that bonds them together. In this championship, they didn’t play well at all in the first half. But you didn’t see them walking around with their heads down,” Celina coach Butch Ford said.
“They don’t have the stats (some college coaches look at), but they do have pretty good stats. And they go out and win championships.”
The road to the Friday final, however, proved challenging for both finalists. While Rice knocked off Snyder and Hitchcock before needing overtime to edge a Glen Rose 32-26, Celina defeated three of the tournament’s top seeds to reach the final.
“Boy, our bracket today was something else. My gosh, we went through Abilene Wylie, Brownwood and Graham to get to this,” Ford said of the Bobcats’ competition.
After gunning down Wylie 38-24 Friday morning, Celina stepped on the field rival Brownwood knowing extra points might decide this even battle. The two squads had battled in June to the final minute when the Bobcats pulled out a narrow victory.
On Friday a 41-39 quarterfinal win became possible only after Celina’s Jay Pirel picked off a Brownwood pass and reached the end zone in the second half. Then Bobcat quarterback Cody Worrell and receivers like 7-on-7 MVP Jose Romero began a possession game of high-probability passes after running the clock down on each play to maintain a two-possession lead.
Celina downs Rice 35-19 for title
Down 13-7 at halftime against Rice in the championship final, Celina held its foe to six points while adding 28 second-half points for the 35-19 final.
J.J. Reggins ignited the Rice Raiders first 7-on-7 state final with a game-opening interception return for six points on Celina’s first offensive drive. The Bobcats’ Justin Brumfield returned the favor moments later. Raider junior quarterback Myles Dumont then connected with Michael Scott to hand Rice a 13-7 halftime edge.
In the second half, Celina’s second-half adjustments worked to perfection as Rice struggled to find its momentum.
West rallies for overtime victory
Carthage started fast and built a 21-7 halftime advantage on two touchdown catches by all-tournament selection Edward Pope and one from Cortlyn Ware. But the West Trojans stole momentum and eventually the consolation championship 35-28 in overtime.
Tyler Angelo scored the game’s first touchdown for West on a pass from Anthony Kelvin. But Lane Machac’s interception for a score decided the game on Kyle Field in dramatic fashion.