BURNET — Preston Preciado believes Gatesville has something to prove. He also feels the Hornets took a step toward doing so Saturday.

Just months after Gatesville used a seven-game, season-opening win streak to propel it back into the playoffs following a one-year absence, the Hornets quarterback is certain few feel the feat is repeatable. After all, Gatesville graduated 24 players from last season’s roster.

Despite the departures, however, the Hornets earned a berth in the upcoming state tournament by putting together an unblemished show-

ing at the Burnet 7-on-7 state qualifying tournament, where Gatesville won its four games by an average of 20.5 points.

After the impressive outing, Preciado admitted the Hornets emerged with more than just the right to make the program’s ninth appearance at state since 2008.

“This gives us a lot of motivation,” the senior said, “because we’ve had a lot of doubters this offseason after losing a lot of seniors.

People don’t think we are going to be as good this year, but I think this will help convince a lot of people.

“We just have to keep it going and deliver at state, and then translate it over into the preseason and regular season.”

After winning its pool by beating McGregor 44-12 and San Antonio Christian 34-27, Gatesville advanced into the quarterfinals of the 24-team tournament.

Then, the Hornets got hot.

Against Caldwell, Gatesville jumped out to a 21-0 lead as Preciado sandwiched a pair of touchdowns to teammates Zach Mueller and Tyler Lewis around Lewis’ interception return for a touchdown.

Caldwell tallied its first points with eight minutes remaining in the opening half, but Gatesville responded as Seth Trotter stepped in at quarterback and completed a touchdown with 10 seconds to go before halftime, helping his team to a 34-13 win.

With two berths at state available, the semifinals served as culmination of the tournament, and the Hornets needed less than three minutes to strike against Fredericksburg, creating an immediate 7-0 advantage.

Gatesville’s lead swelled to 20-6 by halftime before Trotter threw two more touchdowns in the second half to create the 34-12 margin of victory.

“We were just really clicking in those final two games,” Mueller said. “Our communication on defense was good, our routes were sharp, and our quarterbacks were hitting their targets.”

While the Hornets secured their spots at the two-day state tournament beginning June 28 at College Station, former district rival Lampasas was denied the opportunity to make the program’s debut at state.

The Badgers split their games during pool play, falling to Stephenville 37-27 before bouncing back to beat George West 28-18, sending them into a consolation contest against Midlothian Heritage.

Lampasas fell into a double-digit deficit by halftime versus the Jaguars and never recovered, losing 35-14.

Although the Badgers intended to produce a stronger showing, Lampasas head coach Troy Rogers believes his players benefit every time they step on the field together.

“7-on-7 is an offensive game,” he said, “and it gives us a chance to work on continuity amongst the kids, timing and all those types of things. That’s what is important.

“They spent four hours today playing ball together and getting to know each other more ... and we came up short in a couple games, but we still got better.”

BURNET 7-ON-7 SQT

Pool B

  • Gatesville 44, McGregor 12
  • Gatesville 34, SA Christian 27

Pool H

  • Stephenville 37, Lampasas 27
  • Lampasas 28, George West 18

Quarter-Final Round

  • Gatesville 34, Caldwell 13

State Qualifier Round

  • Gatesville 34, Fredericksburg 12

Consolation Bracket

  • Midlothian Heritage 35, Lampasas 14

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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