TYLER — What started as a bright idea to cover two sporting events in one town, during one day, turned into a long journey into night.
But despite the schedule and the sun, it was a lot of fun.
Sulphur Springs had athletes competing in two events Saturday in Tyler.
The varsity 7-on-7 games began at 9 a.m. at Lindsey Park, playing at least three games. The later event was the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Chick-fil-A Heart of a Champion Bowl featuring Bubby Ivery on Earl Campbell Field at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
So I embraced the challenge. I finished by weekend sports pages early, then took off with my darling wife, for a sojourn of epic sports coverage in Smith County.
7-on-7 state qualifying tournament
Sulphur Springs was down to their last tournament, on the last day. They have one chance left to qualify for state in varsity 7-on-7 action. The Wildcats came up short, going 2-1 in pool play. But it was some very exciting competition.
The 9 a.m. game was a nail-biter, just as I figured it would be, just because of the opponent — Crosby. As you recall, the Crosby head football coach is Jeff Riordan. The same talented coach who served as offensive coordinator in Sulphur Springs for many years, including the 2008 state championship season. Several former Sulphur Springs coaches are also on his staff. But teams and coaches had little time to visit and relive glory days, it was fast and furious 7-on-7 action on Field 5 at Lindsey Park. The temperature was bearable in the early Saturday morning game, a few white clouds kept the sun from being oppressive. For now.
The red-clad Cougars had a two touchdown lead in the second half, up 24-12 on the Wildcats. It appeared Sulphur Springs would start the 7-on-7 action with a tough loss in pool action. But nooo, the Wildcats came storming back. Parker Aguilar threw a long scoring pass to Isaiah Lacy. Alex Burney caught the two-point conversion. Crosby came back and scored and with less than 10 minutes to go, the Wildcats trailed 31-19. Sulphur Springs close out the game with a 13-0 run. The winning points turned out to be an Aguilar to Lacy connection. Lacy's third touchdown reception of the game made the score 32-31. The Wildcats missed the extra point attempt so the Sulphur Springs defense had to hold of Crosby for less than a minute to preserve the win. And they did. Sulphur Springs took the first game by the 32-31 final. They quickly advanced to the 10 a.m. game against the John Tyler B team.
The game with John Tyler developed into a rout by the Wildcats as they strolled to a 61-20 win. Sulphur Springs dominated the game on offense and defense. Quarterbacks Aguilar and Larry Pryor completed touchdown passes. Lacy, Burney, Parker Heath, Cain Cody and Dustin Fields caught touchdown passes. Tyler Williams had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
The third game of the day turned to be all Longview as the athletic Lobos won 39-8 against a fatigued Wildcat team. The once-kind morning sun, started to sizzle and fry both squads. Umbrellas popped up and water flowed for both teams as the humidity started to rise.
Traylon Duffey had an interception on defense. Aguilar threw a touchdown pass to Burney to prevent the shutout. Aguilar went to Lacy for the two-point conversion to close out the score. Teams were almost too tired to shake hands as they walked off the field. Longview went to rest for the semifinals. The Wildcats found shade and tried hard to rehydrate while realizing their state 7-on-7 dreams had been dashed in the dust of the Tyler park.
Longview had victories over John Tyler, Crosby and Sulphur Springs to win the pool and advance in the event.
Longview and Robert E. Lee both advanced in Division I state championship. Lee beat Longview, 26-20 for the overall title, but both will advance. Division II representatives are Gilmer and White Oak.
FCA Heart of a Champion Bowl
Football in June. That's almost as unlikely as been delayed by a lightning storm. But they both happened.
The crowd at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium got to see the show, a football game won by the Red team 40-10. The grid game did not start smoothly.
Teams were about to start warming up, but dark clouds and lightning moved to within two miles of the stadium. Putting a halt to things. Instead of starting at 6:30 p.m., the game began closer to 7 p.m.
In the pre-game lull due to the weather, Tyler “Buddy” Ivery talked with friends and family through the fence. Slapping high fives over the barrier to Wildcats coach Greg Owens and former teammate Justin Owens. Ivery, wearing a white No. 6 on a Blue background, appeared loose. Ivery, sporting a two-tone hair style and big headphones, joked and cut up with players on both teams waited for the game to actually start.
Ivery said he had enjoyed the week and would be sharing playing time in the game. Coaches alternated players to keep all the all-stars ready to go into the game at any time so their fans and families could see them on the fake green grass.
The lightning and dark clouds only netted a few rain drops. The overcast skies kept temperatures down, but the humidity returned later.
Ivery's blue team fell behind quickly and were down 12-0 before he touched the ball. Ivery had a pass reception which was halted at the line of scrimmage. The next time the speedy Ivery got a chance to run, he executed a reverse to a teammate on a kickoff return. Again the talented Red team caught the play for just a short gain. The Blue team was down 26-0 in the final seconds of the first half. But the excitement for the squad was not over. Blue team kicker Lumi Kaba, a hometown product from Lee, gave the Blue fans something to cheer about. Kaba boomed a 60-yard field goal from the hold by Hayden Bryant of Bullard. Ivery was on the field with the kicking team and shared high fives with teammates as the half ended. The Red team had a commanding 26-3 lead, but the Blue team got their trio of points in an exciting manner with the long kick.
In the third quarter, Ivery had one carry for two yards. Late in the game he followed good blocking on two runs totalling 15 yards. The Red team went on to claim the 40-10 win.
Ivery said, "It was a good game, I had fun. I had rather been on the winning team. But it is an all star game and everybody is good. I had a good time and got to meet some new people. I saw some old friends."
Rolling out of the stadium and heading north, I turned by a bank. The electronic time and temperature proclaimed 80 degrees at 9:52 p.m. A warm end to long day-evening spent in Tyler. The sporting events did not come out exactly as planned. But the teams and Ivery represented Sulphur Springs well.
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