Local team gearing to make another run - make that another pass - at state 7-on-7 tournament
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

June 3, 2005 - Footballs will continue to be in the air over the summer months as the SSHS 7-on-7 team gears up for another run at the state tournament.

The 7-on-7 team, which is made up of varsity Wildcats playing a non-contact, all-pass game, will attempt to qualify for the State Championship Tournament July 15-16 in College Station. They will play in two qualifying tournaments - June 11 in Rockwall and June 18 in Sabine.

The local team cannot be coached by SSISD employees, according to UIL rules, but SSHS head football coach Brad Turner is at the games as an interested spectator in more ways than one. His son, Logan Turner, will quarterback the team for the second year.

The coaches encourage all of the varsity receivers, running backs, linebackers and secondary players to participate in the summer activity. Since it is all-pass, the only lineman needed is the center.

The last three years, the Wildcats have qualified for the state tournament by either winning or finishing as runner-up at the Sabine tourney. Last summer, Sulphur Springs won at Sabine by beating Troup in the championship game.

Turner said the players practice each day in the summer following their conditioning and strength workouts.

"We gave the kids this week off, coaches and kids are all off," Turner said. "Next week, we'll start back. We're going to some qualifying tournaments and see if we qualify again. It's good to go because the kids like doing it.

"Some of the tournaments have already started, but for people who do spring (football) training, sometimes it's hard to do that so early. The kids will practice next week on their own after they get done with their summer workouts."

The team also has to work around the baseball commitments of several players who continue on the diamond during the summer.

In the past, the Wildcats have hosted a tournament, but there are no plans for that this year because several teams dropped out at the last minute in 2004. The team also doesn't have a league to play in, though Turner said usually several area teams such as Lone Oak, Como-Pickton and North Lamar have been able to come to town for a weekly game.

Seven-on-7 is an all-pass, no-tackle game approved by the UIL for high school football players. Its rules dictate the game is played without a defensive rush. The quarterback has four seconds to get rid of the ball once it is snapped from the center (who is not eligible to catch a pass). Players are declared down when touched below the neck by a defensive player.

The game is played on a 45-yard field with first downs marked every 15 yards.

The first official 7-on-7 football state championship tournament was held in 1998, after it was approved by the UIL in 1995. Former champions have included Southlake Carroll (1998), North Mesquite (1999), Celina (2000), Baytown Lee (2001), Katy Cinco Ranch (2002), Odessa Permian (2003), and Tyler Lee (2004).

If the Wildcats qualify for the state tournament, they will compete with 63 other schools of all sizes which qualified at one of the 32 tournaments held from May 21 until July 9.

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