June 22, 2009

Malena proves versatility in 7-on-7 play

Under head coach Joey McGuire, Cedar Hill has always been know as a physical football team. Even when quarterback William Cole was putting the Longhorn team on his shoulders to win a Class 5A state championship in 2006, he rushed for more yards than he passed. That hasn't changed in recent years as Cedar Hill reached the state semifinals last season behind an offensive line that featured blue-chippers such as Adam Shead and Thomas Ashcraft as well as a 2,000-yard rusher in Ben Malena.

However, with junior quarterback Driphus Jackson returning for two more years of work, McGuire decided during this offseason that his team needed to get better throwing the football. He thought that playing in a 7-on-7 passing league during the summer wasn't enough. As a result, for the first time ever, Cedar Hill entered a state qualifying 7-on-7 tournament this past weekend.

Most teams that do well in the 7-on-7 format either throw the ball a lot during the fall or adjust their games to what 7-on-7 allows you to do. Timing and patience plays a bigger part in your success than how good your athletes are. They also spend years in 7-on-7 play honing their skills. That was one reason why no program making its debut in a state qualifying tournament (SQT) had qualified for the state tournament in six years. Until now.

Cedar Hill won its pool Saturday morning in Mesquite, which included an overtime game against Mesquite Poteet. They then proceeded to beat Garland in the semifinals to claim a berth in the state tournament in College Station. It was a tremendous accomplishment, but Cedar Hill didn't change much in its approach.

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