The Cardiac ‘Cats worked some magic in the final minutes of two games at the Wylie SQT as they cashed in their ticket for their ninth straight trip to the 7 on 7 state championships. The Wildcats were trailing in what amounted to two different elimination games and needed something very special to happen and prevent them from being left out of the playoffs for the first time in nine years.
In the semi-finals with the game clock showing precious few ticks left and nearing 10 p.m., fully 5 hours after starting the event, the Wildcats were trailing against a powerhouse Arlington Martin team 26-25 and sat at the Martin 10 yard line. In magical style the ‘Cats were somehow able to run off three plays with the final play being a strike from Mitchell Hansen to a wide open Matthew Kirchner in the left side of the end zone as time expired and Plano won 31-26. The Wildcats stormed the field in celebration.
Earlier in pool play the Wildcats had to convert a Hansen 23 yard extra point strike to tie the game with Sachse at 26-26 and force over time. In over time Plano had first possession and scored while the defense held and preserved a 33-26 win. In the first game of the pool, Plano beat a scrappy Lovejoy Leopard team 26-13 and in the final game of pool play they out dueled a talented but luckless Mesquite squad 21-14 to set up the semi-final date with Arlington Martin
There were lots Wildcat heroes to go around. None more than Mitchell Hansen who was seeing his first action of the season at a SQT and handled the quarterback position. Besides Kirchner the usual reliable receiving corp. was on display the entire evening, Colby Cantu, Drew Grant, Jonathan Lara, Michael Balisteri, Sam Gable, Josh Johnson, Brooks Panhans, Brandon Stephens, Colten Pusateri,and Parker Meyers. The defense worked their bend but not break style to profection most of the evening as Collin Carpenter, Austin Connell, David Griffith, Christian Klein, Jason Lee, T.J.Lee, Tim Yoder, Nathan Nguyen, and Jordan Phillips joined in keeping Plano close in each game so the magic could be worked.
Coach Tim Stalling gave credit to the entire team for their super effort and thanked the many parents who were on hand for the hot afternoon/evening event and who provided shade, water, and refreshments to the players and coaches.
The nine game playoff streak started for Plano in 2005 and that team, that included such Wildcat greats as Justin Jordan, and brothers Ryan and Rex Burkhead, had also qualified on a very hot June afternoon in the same Wylie SQT. They also clinched their trip to the playoffs on the same field as the 2013 team did on Friday night. By the way, the 2005 Plano team did quite well at Texas A&M that year and in the fall they marched to a Quarter-final show down at Texas Stadium against the National Champions South Lake Carroll Dragons before 30,000 plus fans. The Wildcats finished 13-1 for the 2005 season, the best record since Plano’s own National Championship 16-0 season of 1987 who were coached legendary Coach Tom Kimbrough.
Photos used here are courtesy of Thad Fenton Photography. To purchase photos, see the entire selection from all four games taken at the Wylie SQT visit www.ThadFenton.com