Eldorado, Ozona Clinch First-Ever State 7-on-7 Berth; Sonora Rallies from Slow Start
SONORA, TX -- The Eldorado Eagles, Ozona Lions and Sonora Broncos each clinched a spot at the state 7-on-7 tournament at the Sonora Division III state qualifying tournament on Saturday.
The berth is a first for the Eagles and Lions. Sonora will make their eighth appearance at the state tournament.
Eldorado finished tied with the Harper Longhorns with a 2-1 record, but took the second seed from Pool B based on the head-to-head tie-breaker. That set up a meeting with Ozona in the qualifying round.
Behind three touchdown catches from Santiago Hernandez, the Eagles topped the Lions 40-25 to book their first trip.
"It means a lot," said senior QB Kevan Covarrubiaz. "The past couple of years, we've fallen short. This year, we worked really hard to get into this tournament and all these state qualifying tournaments. We came to play and we did it."
Initially, Eldorado wasn't scheduled for the tournament. But Brady qualified for the state tournament on Friday in Abilene and opted out of the Sonora SQT, creating an opening for the Eagles.
After coming up just short in the Wink tournament a few weeks ago, Eldorado wanted to make sure they made the most of their opportunity.
"It was scary because, if (Brady) won or lost, it would've made a difference if we got into the tournament," Covarrubiaz said. "So we wanted to come in and win it."
Offensive coordinator Zane Hernandez was in attendance to support his team and pleased with what he saw from his players.
"We had a little slow start. But after the first couple of games, I thought Kevan got into a rhythm and we had a few receivers step up," Hernandez said. "Having all of those guys on the field at the same time, they started to click and it showed at the end of the tournament."
Sonora earned their berth after finishing pool play with a 1-2 record. They were helped out by Ballinger (3-0) not being able to advance past pool play since they had already qualified for state.
The Broncos picked up their lone win of pool play in a 34-18 decision over Junction. Sonora struggled to find a rhythm at quarterback, but seemed to click with center Aldo Deluna running the offense.
The senior enjoyed his moments of glory slinging the ball around the field.
"It was so much fun, especially the deep balls, you know," Deluna said. "It's just amazing. It feels good."
With them making it out of pool play, Sonora made the most of their opportunity in the qualifying round by dismantling Harper 54-29. The win gave new life to the "rusty" Broncos.
"We want to win it all," Deluna said. "We're rusty right now; we barely made it out. But I think we can do it."
The state tournament is in College Station June 27-29.
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