Last year, College Station got to be the “hometown hero” in senior linebacker Michael Medlin’s words, winning the Texas State 7-on-7 Division I championship game 20-19 over A&M Consolidated.

The Cougars are back in the state tournament, which is Thursday through Saturday at Veterans Park, but it took them a little while to qualify. College Station earned its state berth last weekend at the Houston Sam Brown qualifying tournament.

The Cougars will open Pool G play in the state tournament at 1 p.m. Friday against El Paso Parkland on Field 12. Laredo United and Richardson Pearce are the other Pool G teams. Consol also qualified and will face Arlington at 1 p.m. Friday in Pool A on Field 1. The other Pool A teams are Bridgeland and Tyler John Tyler.

College Station senior quarterback/wide receiver Austin Sosa said a repeat title would “mean the world,” especially for his younger teammates.

“The younger guys have really stepped up,” Sosa said. “They’ve really proven that they can be on a varsity team and not be scared of what’s on the other side of the defense. And our defense as well. The defense has improved insanely, and I’ve been very proud of the defense lately. They’ve stepped up a lot.”

Medlin said it was tough to watch those teammates struggle early in the 7-on-7 summer season as he recovered from knee surgery, but he knows those trials will pay off.

“They’ve improved a bunch,” Medlin said. “They’ve been working their butts off all season, and it’s paid off. 7-on-7 definitely helps us get ready for the season.”

Though Medlin wanted to help his team on the field, he didn’t mind being patient and cheering on his teammates. He said that patience carries onto the field, where he can be trusted to stick to the game plan. As a middle linebacker, he also gets to call the plays.

He said fellow middle linebacker Jaxson Slanker, a sophomore, stood out on defense, and Sosa said sophomore quarterback Jett Huff and receivers Kyle Walsh and Houston Thomas stepped up on offense.

“I believe in our pass game,” Sosa said. “We have a bunch of brand-new wide receivers that can really step up their game and really be positive about what they do and run crisp routes. [They’re] not worried about who they’re going against, just worried about catching the ball and making sure they get a touchdown.”

Medlin is impressed with how quick the defense is this year.

“We like to have 11 guys on the field that are fast, that get to the football,” Medlin said. “We like to have guys flying to the football to get tackles.”

NOTES — Hearne and Bremond are return to the state tournament after making their debuts last year. Both squads are in Division III, which opens Thursday. Hearne is in Pool D on Field 6 with Flatonia, Ozona and Palmer, which was in the Eagles’ pool last year and lost to Gunter in the title game. Bremond is in Pool E on Field 7 with Comfort, Electra and Wink. Hearne advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division III championship bracket last year before losing 20-13 to Gunter. ... Divisions II and III will have pool play Thursday and bracket play Friday. Division I will hold pool play Friday and bracket play Saturday.

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