Edna 7-on-7 team rides into Aggieland for tournament
July 18, 2012 at 2:18 a.m.
EDNA - The Edna Cowboys may be saddling up for their fourth straight State 7-on-7 Football Tournament appearance, but this year they plan to stand out from the rest of Pool J.
The Cowboys are underdogs in a pool that features a pair of Class 3A teams in Fort Stockton and Celina.
And being overlooked gives the team an extra spark as they prepare to take the three-hour ride to College Station.
"I think we play a whole lot better when we're under pressure," said senior linebacker Kristian Grifaldo. "I told the guys we were ranked last and they were all mad about it."
The Cowboys begin Division II round robin pool play on Thursday against Fort Stockton at 2 p.m. on the intramural fields.
Edna plays Celina at 4 p.m. and Eastland at 6 p.m. later that day.
The top two teams in each pool advance to the 32-team, single-elimination playoff portion of the 7-on-7 tournament.
Edna, with an enrollment of 414, is competing against Celina and Fort Stockton. Those schools have enrollments of 587 and 615.
Celina advanced to the Class 3A, Division I quarterfinals. Eastland, the only other Class 2A, Division I team in the pool, advanced to the state quarterfinals in 2011.
Regardless of how the Cowboys fare, Edna coach Mike Pierce said the tournament is a great way for the team to get ready for the upcoming football season.
"Anytime you can go out and compete, no matter what time of the year, I think it helps you out," Pierce said.
In 2011, the Cowboys went 7-4 and lost in the Class 2A, Division I bi-district playoffs to Blanco.
The team began working to get to the state 7-on-7 tournament long before qualifying began.
After school let out for the summer, players took initiative to get together, stay in shape and begin learning how to play together.
"Our coaches gave us the numbers of the people on the team so we called them up, told them to get to the weight room or come to the track," said senior running back and safety DeRodrick Jones.
Last summer, Edna lost in the championship bracket 32-13 to Sonora. The Cowboys went 2-1 in pool play.
The Division II 7-on-7 championship will be played on Friday at 2:15 p.m. at Kyle Field.
Although it won't be easy to make the final, junior quarterback Austin Kelley admitted that playing in the second largest college football stadium in the state would be memorable.
"It'd be great because it's A&M's stadium," Kelley said. "The 12th Man and a big stadium, I'd want to play there."
Summer 7-on-7 workouts have benefits aside from keeping players in shape. The tournament lets them get familiar with certain looks opposing offenses may give them in the regular season.
"They might see something in 7 on 7 that we haven't seen and when a team that we're playing comes out in it, we'll know how to line up on it," Pierce said.