La Feria heading back to state 7-on-7 tourney

LA FERIA — It’s not full padded, live-action football, but the La Feria Lions 7-on-7 team knows how beneficial their time together during the summer can be.

“Summer 7-on-7 gets us in sync so we can focus on what we need to achieve during our regular season,” said La Feria senior quarterback Jonathan Leija.

“It helps build chemistry between quarterbacks, receivers and helps the cornerbacks and safeties on defense come together.”

And come together they have, as the Lions are just two days away from their second consecutive Texas 7-on-7 State Championship.

Come Thursday, the Lions will be slotted in Division II Pool N along with Carthage, Glen Rose and Heritage (Midlothian).

In all there are 11 pools and 64 teams competing for the state title.

Last year, the Lions finished 29 out of the 64-team field, but were a team just happy to be there.

“Last year, we didn’t think we’d actually make it to the state tournament, but this year, that’s all we focused on doing,” said senior free safety Pete Contreras. “This year, we have that drive to go and really compete.”

This year, the Lions are driven by their defensive skill players, despite being talented on the offensive side of the ball.

In earlier games, the defense answered the call when it mattered the most.

“We have most of our playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, but I feel we as a defense step up when we really need to,” said senior cornerback Trey Azua.

“In the state qualifier, the defense made stops and allowed our offense more opportunities to make plays and score those points to win the games.

“It puts less stress on us,” adds Contreras. “Having a good defense definitely makes the job easier.”

While the team is confident and another year wiser, senior Brandon Perez just wants him and his team to just go in to Thursday’s tournament.

“We have to do what we’ve been doing,” Perez said.

“We have high expectations for everyone, so I’m going to give it my all and help those around me so that they can perform the same way.”

The Tournament will kick off Thursday morning at 1 p.m. at the Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station.

The Lions will open play against Heritage at 2 p.m.

The top two teams in each pool will advance to the Championship Bracket and will play Friday at 9 a.m.