7-on-7 has to recover from opening loss to qualify for state
From Staff Reports

June 22, 2004 -- The Sulphur Springs 7-on-7 football team had to recover from an opening-game loss in the Sabine Qualifying Tournament on Saturday to make it to the championship game and a state tournament berth.

Sulphur Springs lost their opening game, 33-21, to Paris, which looked at the time like it might eliminate them from advancing. Only the winner of each four-team pool advanced to the championship bracket.

But, the Wildcats whipped Spring Hill, 36-6, and then held off Celina, 33-28, to make it out of the pool. They advanced because Spring Hill beat Paris.

"That loss to Paris really put in the hole," said SSHS head football coach Brad Turner, who does not coach the summer league team but attends the games. "The kids deserve a lot of credit for not getting down on themselves after that loss."

By winning its pool, Sulphur Springs advanced to the semifinal game against Tatum, which they won, 41-14. That put SSHS and Troup in the championship game, and since both teams would advance to the state tournament, the coaches flipped a coin and Sulphur Springs was declared champions after winning the toss.

"It was hot and both teams had already played four games, so we both decided to just flip for it and go home," Turner said.

While the loss to Paris was the low point, the win over Celina was the high, Turner said. Celina won the state 7-on-7 tournament in 2000.

SSHS had to win to advance, and they took a 33-28 lead into the closing minutes. Celina was driving with less than a minute to go, but Sulphur Springs' Talon Askew - who usually plays wide receiver - made a leaping interception in the end zone to preserve the win.

"Talon has played really well at receiver for us, but we were short some defensive backs, so he played there and had three or four interceptions," Turner said. "The one against Celina was the big one."

Offensively, Logan Turner played quarterback and helped the Wildcats score at least 30 points in every game but the opening loss to Paris. Turner said Dustin Dunn and Rolaundo Wright both caught the ball well.

"Our kids showed a lot of character after that first game, especially playing Paris who they have a rivalry with," Turner said. "They could have easily shut it down, but they didn't and it worked out for them."

The state 7-on-7 tournament is July 16-17 at College Station.

The local team will try to play in a couple more tournaments before then to keep sharp. This is the third consecutive year that Sulphur Springs has sent a team to the state tourney, having qualified at Sabine each time.

At the state tournament, the local team will compete with 63 other schools of all sizes which qualified at one of the 32 tournaments held from May 22 until July 10.

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