MISSION - The Mercedes Tigers earned their second consecutive trip to the Texas State 7 on 7 Tournament and fourth overall, while Mission Veterans Memorial earned their first ever trip to College Station Saturday at the Rio Grande Valley SQT played at Bentsen Palm Park.
After rolling through the 7 on 7 season in the Rio Grande Valley without a loss, the Mercedes Tigers got a reality check last week at the Corpus SQT going 1-2. That setback didn't deter the Tigers on Saturday when their backs were against the wall in their final pool game against a solid Laredo United squad. The Tigers jumped out to a 27-7 lead in the first half, but saw that lead evaporate after a pick six for United. Now trailing 39-35, with just over two minutes left the Tigers led by QB Rene Presas marched down the field scoring on the final play of the game as Presas hit Raul Dena to give Mercedes a 42-39 win. The Tigers defense led by Roel Garcia stepped up in the semi-finals as they blasted Laredo Alexander 40-13 to clinch the spot at the State Tournament. WR Josh Garza had another monster day for the Tigers as he's been probably the best player in the entire Valley this summer.
Mission Veterans Memorial had never been much for 7 on 7 but HC David Gilpin said his kids made a commitment to do it this summer, "our QB (Santos Villareal) came to me in May and said they wanted to take a step up and play in qualifiers, I'm big into first's and though this would be a great thing for us." It certainly turned out to be that way as Veterans went 2-1 last week at the Corpus SQT, they had plenty of confidence heading into Saturday. Villareal and receivers Jay DeLeon and Roman DeLeon were in rhythm most of the day as the Patriots went 4-0. Defense was also a key for Veterans as they allowed just 18 points in their first two pool games wins over Alice 19-6 and Harlingen 20-12. In the semi-final win over Weslaco, Veterans trailed 20-12 at the half before scoring 21 unanswered second half points to cruise to the 33-20 win.