Summertime means break time. Usually.
Not for the Gonzales Apaches who have their eyes set at a state 7-on-7 tournament next week.
In early June, the Apaches 7-on-7 team competed in a state-qualifying tournament in Cuero, losing their first game, but winning the next three to advance to the Division II Texas 7on7 Championships next Thursday and Friday. The state bid will be their first in over a decade, according to school officials.
“We lost our first game and then the better two games were coming up and we came together as team, we competed hard and won three games in a row to allow us to get to the state tournament. That’s what impressed me the most,” Gonzales Athletic Director Kodi Crane said.
The Apaches coaching staff are not permitted to coach, so the 7-on-7 team is run by Isaac Anzaldua. Crane does meet with Anzaldua on some things, although the athletes have taken charge of the happenings on the field.
“As far as the scheme stuff, that’s really taken on by our kids,” Crane explained. “We try to do a good job in teaching them as far as the schemes goes, [but] play calling, coverage calling, all that stuff is done by the kids.”
For those who don’t know, a 7-on-7 game involves a center snapping the ball to the quarterback with four receivers and a running back, meaning five total receivers that can go out for a route. On defense you have corners, safeties and linebackers defending.
“It’s just 100 percent pass game,” Crane said.
The team has a 45-yard field, with first down coming after every 15 yards.
After a team scores, they can go for one or two, depending on the distance.
The point of 7-on-7 is to improve on the timing of the passing games, as well as build team chemistry during the offseason.
Many of the athletes believe this tournament has helped them build a team chemistry.
“It brings everybody together,” Heber Cardona, an Apache competing in the tournament, said. “It helps a lot with catching.”
“Helps build that muscle memory,” Seth Gibson added.
Getting those reps is sure to help the quarterback and receivers. Getting to work those reps against an opponent? That is where the state tournament will prove to be valuable to the kids.
“You get to compete with some of the best in the state,” Jared “JT” Esparza said. “You see how you match up and how good you really are.”
“It’s free reps,” Crane said. “Our kids are getting out there, they’re working, they’re throwing it around, they’re catching it and those are the things, building those skills is what we need to do and that’s invaluable. Plus, getting to play somebody else and competing against somebody else [is important].”
There’s also a sense of pride in this trip. As noted, the Apaches haven’t made it to the state tournament in quite some time. The athletes want to change that and let everybody know that Gonzales is indeed a town to be respected
“[We have to] put Gonzales back on the map,” Isaac Anzaldua said. “We’re out there now.”
“It’s going to be really neat for Gonzales athletes and Gonzales football to be represented at this 7-on-7 tournament,” Crane said.
Coaching isn’t the only restriction to the relationship between the athletic program and the 7-on-7 team. The school is not allowed to fund the team. Therefore, the Apaches 7-on-7 group are in need of donors to help fund the tournament.
“I’d like to say thank you for Sage Capital Bank because they are the ones that gave us a donation to allow us to cover the money to get into the state qualifier tournament,” Crane said, “and I appreciate what they did for us and for our kids to give us this opportunity.”
The entry fee for the state tournament is $400. Since the tournament is in College Station, the Apaches will need funds to help pay for hotel rooms and food. Anyone interested in donating can contact Crane at the Apache Fieldhouse at 830-672-6641.
The Gonzales Apaches 7-on-7 squad consist of Marvin Cardoza, James Martinez, Jared Esparza, Isaac Longoria, Seth Gibson, Domingo Garcia, Christian Gomez, Orlando Ford, Elijah Holiday, Matthew Velasquez-Banda, Jorge Cervantes, Abreyon Dora, Heber Cardona, Kenneth Cavit, Ja'Corveon Walton, Elijah Holiday, Dillan Ramos, Coby Rodriguez, Keisey Ramirez, Eduardo Izaguirre and Nico Anzaldua.
The Division II tournament is set for Thursday June 28 and Friday June 29. Pool play begins Thursday at 1 p.m. The consolation and championship brackets will take place Friday.