Hawks get no wins, plenty of experience at state
By: Kevin Hamilton
To make it to the state 7-on-7 tournament was not only a first for the Iowa Park Hawks, but a big thing for the players and coaches working hard to transition from a traditional run-oriented offense into a pass-focused run-and-gun spread.
Thursday and Friday on the fields at the Williamson County Regional Park in Leander, the Hawks came up empty in terms of wins in four tries, but left Central Texas with valuable experience and a focused strategy on the future of Iowa Park football.
“It was tough competition and a great experience for the program,” Head Hawk Scott Ponder said afterward. Watching the games from a chair in the endzone (he was relegated to evaluating his players as a non-coach through the 7-on-7 season), Ponder saw plenty of good things from his players, and plenty of things to work on.
“We may have been a little awestruck,” he said of the competition at state. “It was an overwhelming experience for all of us. It is hard to describe how talented and how sharp the teams were. It was uncharted waters for the Hawks. We have made huge strides. The next challenge are two-a-days!” he exclaimed.
In the first game of pool play Thursday, Iowa Park was defeated in the end of a thrilling game with Grandview 20-19.
In the second game against Springtown (dropping to 3A from 4A last season), the Porcupines came away with a 33-24 win.
Iowa Park then lost to Rice Consolidated 45-28.
In the consolation bracket Friday morning, Iowa Park was defeated by Fairfield.
“The tough competition will make us better,” Ponder noted. “We have made huge strides.”
HOW THEY FARED
Rice Consolidated and Springtown advanced to the Diviison II Championship Bracket Friday. Rice defeated Stephenville 33-28 before losing to Midland Christian 38-33.
Springtown edged Melissa 27-25 before losing to Brownwood 46-20.
Fellow District 5-3A opponent Graham defeated Argyle in double overtime 33-31 to capture the state title. Last year, the Steers made it to the title game before losing to Celina.
Getting to the championship game, Graham moved through the top bracket defeating Kinkaid 41-34, Burnet 49-47 (OT), Gilmer 26-20, and Somerset 45-20.
In the Consolation Bracket, Fairfield defeated Iowa Park 46-13, then Banera 28-12, and Salado 41-40 before losing to McGregor in the semifinals 35-27.
The 7-on-7 coach for the Hawks is James Dudley. Team members include Kyler Webb, Braden Hennen, Dakota Schweiger, Andrew Manuel, Zach Stumbaugh, Andrew Hernandez, Gage Garner, Chase Nunn, Cole Oxford, Aaron Ehlert, Brennan Whitaker, Jesse Villalobos, Derrick Ponder, Bailey Hale, Bryce Skinner, Franco Nieto, Dyllan Radford, Jared Price, Dayton McDonald, and Thomas Musgrave.