There are about as many 7-on-7 theories as there are teams that play it.
When it comes to the state tournament, most seem to agree the best approach is to qualify early and take advantage of the remaining games along the road to College Station.
Plano (19-1) seems to have done both well. It narrowly missed qualifying in its first tournament – which took place after just one team practice – and the following week earned its sixth straight state tournament berth. Plano has gone 9-0 in league play and Saturday went 3-0 at SMU in another state qualifying tournament. The Division I state 7-on-7 tournament takes place July 9-10 on the intramural fields at Texas A&M University.
“We’ve got to stay confident,” said senior Murat Kuzu, who in the 11-man game can be used as a quarterback, running back or slot receiver. “Everyone has to play their assignments, run their routes, catch the ball and we can’t make turnovers. Our routes are unstoppable. We’ve got really good quarterbacks and receivers.”
The team has demonstrated a variety of receiving weapons, not the least among them being Steele Hoetger. The senior made the trip to state last season, along with a large number of players on this year’s team.
“We’ve got good communication with (quarterback) Connor Michelsen,” Hoetger said. “Our defense is fine. I think we just need to come closer as a team. I think our team’s pretty set.”
An emerging weapon out of the mold of Kuzu is L.J. Ausama. He shared snaps at running back on junior varsity last season with Jared Janacek. He didn’t get too many receptions out of the backfield, but his varsity appearance in the playoffs against Euless Trinity proved he was capable catching the ball.
“I don’t think he’s surprising anybody,” Hoetger said. “He’s fast. He’s quick. He’s doing just what he did last year.”
So, what more does Plano have to do before making the trip to the state tournament.
“We can’t make the same mistakes we did last year,” Kuzu said.
That team won its pool and lost an overtime first-round tournament game. It seems as if this team believes a deeper penetration into the tournament bracket is possible, and for good reason. The team is 9-0 in state tournament qualifying pool games, the barometer for who gets a shot at going to state and who stays home.