COLLEGE STATION — The Mercedes Tigers showed their Texas State 7on7 tournament experience and displayed toughness in what was an impressive first-day performance Friday afternoon at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex.
Despite a 2-0 start in pool play, Mercedes fell to Montgomery 34-18 in their third and final game of the afternoon, and wound up in the Division I consolation bracket due to a point differential.
The Tigers narrowly missed the championship bracket after falling to Montgomery on points, 62-61. The Bears ended up taking the second seed in Pool D while the Tigers had to settle for the third spot. The Tigers will now play at 8 this morning against El Paso Coronado.
“We had a strong showing today,” said Mercedes cornerback Ivan Vela. “We have been here before so we knew what to expect. Our offense did its thing and we made plays in the secondary.”
Mercedes began its day with a bang against Del Valle. The Ledesma twin combo proved to be too much for the opposing defense as Marc Ledesma hit his go-to target Matt Ledesma on the first play from scrimmage in stride for a touchdown as the Tigers routed the Cardinals 39-15.
In Game 2, the Tigers were tested against a quick and physical Timberview team. Mercedes jumped out to a 26-13 lead, but the Wolves managed to cut into the lead and eventually took a 27-25 advantage.
After that, the fireworks began with both offenses answering each other in what ended up being an old-fashion shootout. Marc Ledesma hit Ryan Reyes in the back of the end zone in the final minute to secure a 43-41 Tigers win.
“This game was tough and our speed got tested,” said Vela after the win over Timberview. “We made the plays we needed to on defense and we earned this one.”
The Tigers had hoped the momentum from Game 2 would carry over into their final game of the day, but they fell short against Montgomery and caught the unlucky break in the final standings.
Despite being placed in the consolation bracket for a second straight year, the Tigers were pleased with their performance.
“It’s always great to come back and compete against the best,” said Marc Ledesma. “We got our 7on7 season started a little slow, but over time we all began to click.
My brother and I practice every day. We have a special connection and I thought he did a great job today. We have a lot of experience and we played good teams today. Overall, we did a great job and I’m proud of my team’s effort.”
NOTEBOOK: Rio Hondo’s championship bracket journey ends in first round
Rio Hondo’s State 7on7 journey quickly came to an end Friday morning in the first round of the Division II championship bracket.
The Bobcats ended the tournament with a 2-2 overall record.
Despite falling behind 14-0 right out of the gate to Boerne, Rio Hondo scored, forced a turnover and tied the game at 14 midway through the second half. The Bobcats managed to shake off the slow start and battled back to take a 27-21 lead.
However, Boerne managed to pull away with a late score and win 48-41, ending Rio Hondo’s tournament run.
“This was a great experience, coming out here for the first time and playing against different schools,” said Rio Hondo wide receiver Erik Pizarro. “We gave it our best these last two days and sometimes the chips don’t fall your way, but I’m proud of my team.”
Rio Hondo’s offense looked like it was in mid-season form. Tyler Bush was in sync with Pizarro and running back Danny Vazquez displayed his pass and route-running ability. The transition from 7on7 to full pads doesn’t always pan out, but in Rio Hondo’s case, the Cats are a team on a mission and have the pieces in play to make some noise come this fall.
“We’re excited for this upcoming season,” said Vazquez. “Playing against tough competition will help us in the fall. It gave us great practice to see the bigger schools. We want to carry this momentum into the fall. Our offense was on point and I’m happy with the way our offense performed.”
TOUGH DAY: Five Division I teams from the Rio Grande Valley took the field Friday afternoon and only Sharyland Pioneer advanced to play in the championship bracket. The Diamondbacks went 1-2 in pool play with a 33-27 Game 3 win over Dickinson that secured them a bid in the championship round. The D’Backs will play Cinco Ranch at 9 a.m. today.
Edinburg North, McAllen Rowe and Weslaco High all finished pool play 0-3 and will play in the consolation bracket this morning at 8.
Edinburg North will play Marshall, Weslaco will meet Hutto and Rowe has a date with Lubbock Coronado.