Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

June 26, 2013

GC FOOTBALL: A firm foundation

Mike Phillips
Ron Farmer

— TEAGUE — Hector Calvillo said it best.

And he didn’t hesitate or stutter when he said it.

“I’m 100 percent sure we will win games this season because of 7-on-7 football,’’ said Calvillo, one of the receivers on Corsicana’s 7-on-7 team that played in Teague Tuesday night.

He’s a believer.

So are the rest of the Tigers, who will wrap up their 7-on-7 season on Friday in Teague, where the teams in the eight-team summer league will finish the season-ending tournament.

Corsicana, which hadn’t played 7-on-7 in recent years, is seeded No. 2 in the tournament. The Tigers beat No. 7-seed Mildred, 24-14 in the opening round game of the tournament on Tuesday.

Mildred, a Class 2A school, is also pretty confident the 7-on-7 season will help.

“It was good we came out here to compete,’’ said Daniel Johnston, Mildred’s co-offensive coordinator who was at the games on Tuesday. “We’ve got a new quarterback who has played nine games here.’’

The experience Mildred QB Will Burnham is getting could be priceless this fall. The Eagles had to say good-bye to Nic Shimonek, who will take his strong arm and savvy to Iowa to play in the Big Ten.

Burnham is a rising sophomore who has never played quarterback, so every throw — every completion and even every incompletion — is valuable for him and the Eagles.

Burnham threw two TD passes to Xavier Fuqua, and Mildred’s Draylon Sterling had an interception against Corsicana. Wortham also plays in the Teague league and all three Golden Circle teams will be playing on Friday in the tournament.

Mildred, which has been picked by Texas Football magazine to not only win the district but to advance to the Class 2A Division II Final Four, knows the value of developing a new quarterback this summer, and Burnham has played well.

“He’s never played quarterback, but we are expecting big things from him,’’ Johnston said. “He’s making big strides. We’re putting a lot of weight on his shoulders, but we think he will respond.’’

At Corsicana, the kids are responding to new coach Steve Hoffman, who will throw the ball more than the Tigers have in recent years.

One of the keys is the return of quarterback Devontay Bell, who missed almost all of last season with a torn ACL. Bell, wearing a small brace on his knee, looked quick, agile and dangerous from the QB spot on Tuesday.

He likes the 7-on-7 game and also believes it’s going to help the Tigers, who played in the state qualifying tournament in Arlington on Saturday. They won their first game, beating Colleyville Heritage, 19-13 in overtime, before being eliminated.

“That’s the first state-qualifying game they have won at the school since 2004,’’ said Hoffman, who likes what he has seen this summer. “The kids are learning our offense. This has been good for us.’’

Corsicana plays again on Friday morning, and the feeling with the kids is they want to win the Teague title. It can’t hurt.

The Tigers can see development every day.

Not only is Bell getting back into the rhythm of the game, but his throws are sharp. He threw seven touchdown passes in the two games on Tuesday, four against Mexia and three more against Mildred. Corsicana’s Keenan Dowell had two interceptions, incuding a beauty in the end zone when he tipped the ball and then stayed with it to pick off the pass.

Bell has plenty of targets, including Calvillo, Ty Sheffield and Danair Martin, who all caught touchdown passes. Martin caught three, including two against Mildred.

“I’m getting better,’’ said Martin, who had never played football until last season. “I’m getting to know everybody. At first I wasn’t very good (at receiver) but I’m getting better. I’m getting used to it. I want to have a big season.’’

All of the Tigers want that.

Calvillo said every step now will pay off later.

“I’m learning my routes and learning my reads to make it easier for the quarterback,’’ he said. “I’ll be more prepared for the season because of it. I think I’ll be a lot better going into the season.’’

Friday will be the end of 7-on-7 for the area teams, but that’s just a reminder that the real season is growing near. That’s why Calvillo’s statement carries so much weight — he’s 100 percent certain the Tigers will win under Friday night lights because of what they did in Teague on Tuesday’s in June.