Playing eight games in two days tests the strongest.Â Â Navasota proved worthy by taking the Texas Division II 7-on-7 championship with a 40-39 win over China Spring at Veterans Park in College Station on Friday, July 10.
The Rattlers appeared in command late in the title contest, leading 40-26 when Ladadrien Walker intercepted China Springâ€™s Kameron Coe.Â Â But the Cougars rallied for a touchdown and heldÂ NavasotaÂ on downs in the red zone.
Coe then marched his team downfield for the potential winning score, and Brett Cain made a leaping catch for the touchdown.Â Â On the gameâ€™s final snap, the Cougars went for the win with a two-point conversion, butÂ Navasotaâ€™s coverage forced a high throw that fell incomplete.
â€œNavasotaÂ did a great job today,â€ Coe told Brian Crownover of theÂ WacoÂ Tribune-Herald.Â Â â€œIt definitely stings a little bit by losing on that last play, but itâ€™s a great accomplishment for all of us to get to the last game.â€
â€œWeâ€™re not allowed to be involved in it, so we get to sit there as fans,â€ addedÂ NavasotaÂ head coach Lee Fedora to David Campbell of theÂ Bryan Eagle.Â Â â€œOur kids played hard and were able to keep that fight to get the win.â€
The Rattlers advanced to the championship bracket with a 3-0 record in pool playÂ on Thursday.Â Â NavasotaÂ defeated Stephenville 54-18, White Oak 27-18, and Yoakum 40-13 to set up its five-game marathonÂ on Friday.
In the championship first round, Navasota edgedÂ PrincetonÂ 35-34 in a game not as close as the score indicated.Â Â The Rattlers led by nine, butÂ PrincetonÂ scored late and converted the two-point conversion in the one-point victory.
NavasotaÂ moved on in round two with a 39-25 win over Pilot Point and took the quarterfinal game against Burnet 55-27.Â Â A 32-19 decision over Abilene Wylie set up the title contest against China Spring.
Shelton Eppler quarterbacked the Rattlers the entire tournament and tossed three touchdown passes to Sammy Blair in the championship game.Â Â All-state receiver Trenâ€™Davian Dickson sat out the 7-on-7 tournament due to a hamstring twinge.
â€œYou have to work a lot harder with Trenâ€™Davian for sure because he helps out the team with first downs,â€ Eppler toldÂ The Eagle.Â Â â€œHe definitely can get in the end zone.â€
Navasota became the firstÂ BrazosÂ ValleyÂ team to claim a 7-on-7 championship since the tournament began in 1996.Â Â In the consolation bracket, Giddings won the title with a 38-12 win over East Bernard.
Check back for more 7-on-7 Championship coverage later today and tomorrow.