BURNET — The Stephenville Yellow Jackets 7-on-7 football team picked up right where it left off Saturday, winning a tournament and qualifying for state.
Stephenville outlasted withering heat and a talented 16-team field, which included state top-10 stalwart Copperas Cove, Georgetown and the Yellow Jackets’ season-opening opponent, Waco Midway.
Many of Stephenville’s current starters were also part of last summer’s team, which advanced to the semifinals of the state championship in College Station. That experience, paired with success executing schemes on offense and defense, were key to the Yellow Jackets’ victory, coach Sam Taylor said.
“Their conditioning really paid off for them (in the semifinals and finals),” Taylor said.
Plus, the Yellow Jackets were able to spread the ball on offense, preventing defenses from keying on just one or two players.
“We had contributions from a lot of different players,” Taylor said.
The Yellow Jackets opened their season with a 33-0 runaway win over Hays. A 33-6 win over Round Rock Westwood followed, and Stephenville hung on to beat Round Rock Stony Point 39-34 to make it out of their pool and into the semifinals.
It was there the Yellow Jackets got a first look at the Midway Panthers, their opponent in the Aug. 30 HEB Heart of Texas Kickoff Classic.
The result was a “great game” between two tough teams, Taylor said, and resulted in an overtime win for Stephenville.
Midway connected on a 40-yard Hail Mary into double coverage to tie the game in the final moments of regulation, but Stephenville stopped the Panthers from converting the extra point.
The Yellow Jackets scored on their first extra possession, and turned back Midway, winning 41-34. The victory secured their spot in the state tournament, as the top two teams from each qualifier are allowed entry.
Still, they weren’t ready to relax just yet. The Yellow Jackets charged out to a 20-6 halftime lead over Cedar Park, and added one more touchdown in the second to win the whole thing, 26-6.
Stephenville’s next tournament will be at Southlake Carroll Saturday. The state tournament is July 13-14.