CUERO — Cuero got off to a ragged start in its 7-on-7 Division II state qualifying tournament.

The Gobblers struggled on offense and defense and dropped a 26-7 decision to Austin LBJ.

But Cuero would not lose again, as it reeled off four consecutive victories to capture the tournament championship Friday at Gobbler Stadium.

“We lost the first game,” said Cuero quarterback Jerry Rossett. “I mean us coming back from that and winning the rest is really a big step for us.”

Cuero defeated Fort Bend Christian 22-13 and Salado 26-19 in pool play.

The Gobblers got past Smithville 18-14 in the semifinals, before thumping La Vernia 39-7 in the championship game to clinch a berth in the state tournament, which is scheduled for June 24-25 at Veterans Park in College Station.

“We have a lot of young guys so it shows them that we’re able to keep going and make it deep this year,” said Cuero tight end AJ Arroyo. “It will be a great experience for everyone to get better and just have fun.”

Cuero coach Jack Alvarez was proud of his team’s ability to bounce back.

“There’s a lot to be said about losing the first game and then coming back undefeated,” Alvarez said. “We didn’t play great in the first game. We still had opportunities. We didn’t get our heads down and just finished the day.”

Cuero not only had to overcome its opponents, it also battled the heat on the artificial turf.

“Every single morning we’ve been waking up and it hasn’t been this hot, but we’re out in it,” Rossett said. “You’ve just got to play through it. It’s just something that’s there.”

The Gobblers will be making their first state tournament since 2018 when they went on to win the Class 4A, Division II state championship.

“In Cuero, we’re held to higher standards,” Rossett said. “It should be expected every single year.”

Ricebirds continue winning ways

El Campo has adapted a new slogan this season.

“TTBL,” said running back Rueben Owens. “Turn the Birds loose.”

The Ricebirds lived up to their word Saturday by going 3-0 in pool play.

El Campo beat Smithville 25-13, downed Cypress Christian 27-7 and defeated Cameron Yoe 28-21.

The Ricebirds have already secured a berth in the state tournament so weren’t eligible for the qualifying round, but have compiled an 18-0 record in 7on7 games.

“It feels good to go undefeated into state,” Owens said. “I played 7on7 my freshman year and we didn’t make it to state. We’re working hard every day in the weight room. In practice, we work hard and it pays off on the field.”

The Ricebirds trailed Cameron Yoe 14-6 at halftime, but rallied in the second half.

“It helps us realize that there are teams out there that are still good and we can’t get too high on ourselves,” said cornerback Dekoreyus Ward. “It feels really good knowing how much work we’ve put in during the offseason. Having a new coach, it’s a big confidence booster going into the regular season.”

Beeville’s offense shows promise

GOLIAD — Beeville came into its pool intent on showing off its skill position players.

Victor Gonzales and Matthew Casas both played quarterback and the Trojans defeated Calhoun (13-7), Marion (40-7) and Navarro (20-7) to advance to the semifinals in Cuero.

The Trojans went to overtime against La Vernia in their semifinal game before losing 28-21.

“We’re really just trying to find our coverages and make sure we get everything situated for when the season comes,” Gonzales said. “We know whenever we need these big plays, we know what plays we can trust against all these coverages that we’re playing. Whatever we need, we have the plays to work on them.”

Gonzales missed out on the qualifying round because of its 20-14 loss in pool play to La Vernia.

“We’re feeling pretty good,” said Gonzales wide receiver Brady Barfield. “The first game was really disappointing because we beat La Vernia at the last 7on7. We just came out a little rusty in the first game, but the other two felt really good.”

Goliad finished 1-2 in pool play, but saw some positive signs.

“One thing we want to improve on is our defense,” said Goliad wide receiver Eli Luco said. “We were close, real close and we thought we were up, and we let them slip by us. So one thing we want to try to work on is act like even though we’re winning, we want to play like we’re not winning.”

Advocate sports writer Peter Scamardo contributed to this story.

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Mike Forman is the sports editor of the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or by email at Follow him on Twitter at @mikeforman21

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Mike Forman is the sports editor of the Victoria Advocate. He has worked at the Advocate since 1982. He has a bachelor's degree from SMU and a master's degree from UCLA.

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