Dragon football makes history at Texas State 7 on 7

To the average person, summer is considered the offseason for the sport of football, but Round Rock never takes a break. The Dragons entered into the statewide 7on7 tournament hoping to qualify for state for the first time since 2015. Local news stations gave Round Rock a 17% chance to advance onto the state tournament, but with a star-studded wide receiver core, an experienced quarterback, and a defense on the rise, Round Rock shocked the state, qualifying for the Texas State 7 on 7 tournament and finishing fourth overall. 

When football is in the offseason, all attention is turned to 7 on 7. In this version of football, all offensive and defensive linemen are taken out of the game, leaving only the skill players on the field. On offense, throwing the ball is the only way to advance the ball. On defense, players are down when wrapped up by a defender, helping eliminate the tackling aspect of the game. There are no such things as kickoffs or punts due to a 40 yard field, creating a fast possession change after scores.With every team throwing the ball and getting a four second shot clock to throw the ball, this version of the game allows for fast paced, high scoring games. 

The Dragons entered into the Westwood State Qualifying Tournament where they were pooled with Westlake, Hendrickson, and Abilene Cooper. After advancing out of Pool D, Round Rock matched with 13-6A district rival Stony Point with a state berth on the line. Behind the arm of junior quarterback Seth Ford, the duo of senior wide receivers Collin Sullivan and Jordan Smart, and a tenacious defense, the Dragons erupted for 45 points to claim the final qualifying spot 45-24 over Stony Point. 

“We aren’t just playing football to play football anymore,” Smart said. “We are playing to put out a name for ourselves and for the underrated athletes in Round Rock. Qualifying for state was a step in the right direction for that goal.”

The Dragons made the trip down to College Station, Texas, on June 30 to continue their conquest for a State 7on 7 title. Round Rock was placed into Pool H along with football powerhouses Cy Falls, Mission, and Desoto. Even after receiving the news of their challenging pool, Round Rock remained unphased. The Dragons began Friday’s pool play with a 49-37 victory over Mission. After starting the day 1-0, Round Rock cooled off losing to Desoto 48-26, but hopes for a championship bracket berth were not out of sight. In the final game of pool play, Round Rock edged Cy Falls 40-37 to finish pool play with a 2-1 record. After a controversial call, the officials bumped Round Rock down to third place in Pool H eliminating their hopes for a championship bracket berth, but the goal of walking out of College Station without some hardware was not over. Texas state 7on7 officials ranked Round Rock to make a deep run in the consolation bracket, and they did not disappoint.

“The defense began to really come together on the second day of 7on7,” junior Ty Dillon said. “The first day was a real learning experience for the defense and I. We came out on the second day with a goal in mind to force turnovers and hold the other team to a low score.  Everyone always looks at the guy that makes the big play, but never at the other players on the field that do their job in order to have success. The only reason I was able to make some of those big interceptions and deflections was because the rest of our defense all did their own jobs creating opportunities for people to go make plays.”

The Dragons opened a blazing, hot Saturday morning with an early win over San Angelo Central 48-38. With the win, Round Rock moved on to round two where they emerged victorious over Pearce 40-27. The Dragon defense was rock solid forcing one interception from Dillon to put the game away. As the day grew hotter and hotter, Round Rock grew stronger. They picked up wins in both the third and fourth round over Foster, 27-14, and Bridgeland 40-33 in overtime. As the clock struck 4:00 P.M., The Dragons earned a berth into the consolation final versus Mesquite-Horn. With the heat becoming a factor, Round Rock players continuously stretched, ate fruit, and stayed off their feet to preserve energy for the title game. Horn gave Round Rock a dog fight down to the end, in which the Jaguars won 54-53 in overtime after stopping the Dragons on fourth down to win the consolation championship.

“Finishing fourth at state proved all the doubters wrong,” junior Ford said. “We knew that everyone would count us out to qualify and finish as high as we did. All of that was just fuel to the fire for us. With finishing fourth, we turned heads and are ready to make some noise this season.”

Round Rock’s fourth place finish is their best finish in history. Quarterback Seth Ford accumulated 46 touchdowns over the two-day tournament with a majority of them going to senior wide receiver duo Jordan Smart and Collin Sullivan. The Dragon’s fourth place finish turned heads, making them a dark horse projection to win district 13-6A.