COLLEGE STATION — Rio Hondo entered pool play at the Texas State 7on7 tournament Thursday as the young, inexperienced pups who were very eager to showcase their skills.
Despite it being their first time at state, the Bobcats showed some teeth and flexed their muscles to finish 2-1 in pool play at VeteransPark and Athletic Complex.
The two-win mark was enough for the Bobcats to clinch a spot in today’s championship bracket, where they’ll face Boerne in the first round.
“Heading into our first game we had confidence,” said Rio Hondo quarterback Tyler Bush. “Yes, we were excited to be here, but we were also ready to get out there and play.”
Rio Hondo began pool play against Stafford and entered the second half with the game tied at 20.
The Bobcats wound up prevailing in overtime 33-27 on a touchdown pass from Bush to Erik Pizarro.
In Game 2, Rio Hondo faced Kaufman, the defending champs. Early turnovers proved to be too much for the Bobcats to overcome and the Cats fell 40-26.
In their final game of the day, The Cats fended off a late Mineral Wells rally to win 34-31. Ruben Hernandez patrolled the secondary and made plays for the Bobcats while Pizarro, Danny Vazquez, Jimmy Weaver and Frank Hernandez all stretched the field and made plays on offense all afternoon long.
Rio Hondo displayed toughness and the ability to force turnovers.
“It was hot today, I’m not going to lie,” said Frank Hernandez. “We overcame that heat and worked through it. The second game was tough and it was big for us to rebound and pick up a win in the third game. We’re excited to come back tomorrow and get back at it.”
NOTEBOOK: Cats soaking it all in at College Station
Not every team gets a chance to make the Texas State 7on7 Tournament in College Station. Meanwhile, some teams make it an annual trip to AggieLand and showcase their skills.
The road trip and team bonding is what makes the experience fun. Another cool perk is the gear the players receive all via tournament sponsor Adidas.
For Rio Hondo, the Bobcats are taking in the moment and just playing football.
“Getting the gear was the coolest thing,” said Rio Hondo quarterback Tyler Bush. “We got two sets of jerseys, gloves and cleats. So far this has been a fun experience with my team.”
Rio Hondo turned heads Thursday afternoon in pool play, coming up with a 2-1 record and a spot in the championship bracket. Not bad for a first-time club.
“Traveling up here was fun and, of course, getting the Adidas gear was pretty sweet,” said receiver Frank Hernandez. “We learned a lot in one day and we got to see other teams’ speed. The corners here have great closing speed and that’s a good challenge for us to go against.”
PIRATES PLUNDERED: The Hidalgo Pirates were the other Division II school to represent the Rio Grande Valley at state on Thursday. However, unlike the Cats, the Pirates finished 0-3 in pool play and will now play in the consolation bracket today. They take on Brock at 8 a.m.
It was a rough day for Hidalgo, as the Pirates dropped their first game to El Campo 34-22, lost their second contest to Texarkana Pleasant Grove 59-12 and dropped their final game of the day to Pecos 30-21.
ON TAP: In addition to the conclusion of Division II action, today is the start of the Division I tournament, which involves Mercedes, Weslaco, Sharyland Pioneer and Edinburg North.
Mercedes starts the day with a 1 p.m. Pool D contest against Del Valle. At 3 p.m. the Tigers will take on Timberview and at 5 p.m. they play Montgomery.
Weslaco, meanwhile, kicks things off with a Pool M contest against Waxahachie at 2 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. game against Cy Fair and, finally, a 6 p.m. contest vs. College Station.
Pioneer is in Pool J along with Abilene, Dickinson and The Colony, which the Diamondbacks open up with.
Finally, Edinburg North is in Pool P along with Texas A&M Consolidated, Bush and Lovejoy. The Cougars kicks off their day against Lovejoy at 2 p.m.