By James Harper
Harker Heights Herald
BELTON - Peter Shelburne is done with preparation and is ready to execute.
With the 7-on-7 Cen-Tex Passing League concluding its season Tuesday, Shelburne and the Belton Tigers have their sights set on the state tournament in July and completion of 7-on-7 play.
"We've had lots of practice and prepared for this all spring. We're ready to come out here and execute," he said. "This is a good experience for us to face good schools like Killeen and Cove so we get to get a lot of reps and we can see what works and what we can do when state comes."
With the thermometer in the triple-digits Tuesday, Belton finished the day 2-1, defeating Killeen in the first game 28-7.
"In this heat you gotta keep drinking water - lots and lots of water," said Belton senior Derick Bates.
Shelburne started off hot and led the Tigers to touchdowns on four of their five possessions, hitting Bates twice and Brandon Rhoads and Chase Thornal once each. Shelburne targeted Bates several times during the game and most notably in the redzone.
"Bates is one of our go-to guys. He makes a play whenever we need it so down by the goal line if you throw it to him, he's gonna catch it," Shelburne said.
Bates added: "I'm getting out of my breaks real fast and watching what the corners play on me."
Offense was on display for the Tigers, but their defense played well, too. Senior Kyle Battle made an extraordinary play when he intercepted Killeen quarterback Garrett Gaskamp in the back of the end zone to preserve the shutout, that is until the Roos last drive.
"He was coming outside and I was supposed to sync with him, I put my hands up, jumped and came down with it," Battle said. "We work on our team pass defense, mostly zones. We have to be able to trust that our teammates are gonna do what they are supposed to."
Belton 7-on-7 sponsor Michael Morgan saw some things he liked and some he didn't.
"It's frustrating that coaches can't coach. The kids organize this and the quarterback calls the offensive plays," he said. "They learn by trial and error and you hope to see some reinforcement on things you worked on in the spring."
Shelburne encompassed the trial-and-error style in Belton's 26-21 loss to Copperas Cove, which went 3-0 on the day.
On Cove's first drive, Robbie Seybold hit Phillip Baptiste on a 20-yard pass to take the 8-0 lead. Belton was unable to tie the score when Shelburne threw an anticipatory pass to one of his receivers, but instead of hitting the wide out in stride, the Dawgs Zach Martin picked off the pass.
"(The wide receiver) ran the wrong route but it's the quarterback's responsibility to take care of the ball, so it's my fault." Shelburne said.
The turnover proved costly. Cove scored on all of its possessions, while Belton found the end zone on all its remaining drives.
Shelburne saw positives despite the error.
"It shows that at anytime, no matter the score, we can come back on anybody," Shelburne said. "We just can't get down on ourselves because we have a chance against anybody."
Belton has its chance to continue working on execution July 19-21 when it travels to Texas A&M for the 7-on-7 state tournament. For Shelburne, he's using what he's learned in the Cen-Tex Passing League as a spring-board for that tournament.
"I have to know who the good personnel is so that way when we are in a key situation I can rely on the people that can make plays," Shelburne said.