Arlington Citizen-Journal

Vikings 7-on-7 qualifies for state for 19th straight year

Vikings quarterback Chance Fuller passes in practice last week at Cravens Field.
Vikings quarterback Chance Fuller passes in practice last week at Cravens Field. senglish@star-telegram.com

Chance Fuller will take the reins of the Lamar offense this fall as the team’s new starting quarterback. But he’s already passed the Vikings to heights unrivaled by any other school in this football-crazy state.

Fuller, a senior, recently helped Lamar’s 7-on-7 football team qualify for the state tournament — marking the 19th consecutive year the Vikings have qualified for event. Lamar is the only school in Texas to qualify for the state 7-on-7 tournament every year of its existence. This year’s tournament is slated for July 8-9 in College Station.

“It’s just our accomplishment,” Fuller said. “No one else can match what we’ve been able to do, and no one can take that accomplishment from us.”

Lamar doesn’t reach the tournament, which serves as the showcase event for this skill-position-focused, all-passing league, but consistently thrives in the heat against top competition. The Vikings have reached the 64-team big-school division’s final four on four different occasions. Lamar has also won two national 7-on-7 tournaments.

“And we’ve done it all on the road,” said Jim Poynter, who is in his 14th summer as the Vikings’ 7-on-7 volunteer head coach. “We have never hosted a tournament.”

Fuller, the son of former Lamar head coach Trent Fuller, is using 7-on-7 play to run the Lamar playbook and develop chemistry and a closer bond with a core of receivers who will be varsity starters for the first time in the fall. He can relate to that journey. Fuller spent last season backing up the now-graduated Shane Buechele, who is vying to start at QB for the Texas Longhorns in the fall.

“Chance has always been a good quarterback,” senior wide receiver/linebacker Devon Wright said. “He was just behind Shane. And Shane was a great quarterback.”

Fuller and Wright, who have been playing football together since seventh grade, don’t just view 7-on-7 as a springboard to the upcoming varsity season. 7-on-7 is a season unto itself – and the passing-receiving tandem takes the field aiming to win.

“We practice really hard and take it very seriously in games,” Fuller said of the summer version of football.

This isn’t Fuller’s first time to take a lead role for the Lamar 7-on-7 team. Last summer, Buechele missed key games while attending the Elite 11 camp. In his absence, Fuller kept the Vikings offense humming.

“Chance played well last summer and it’s been his team this summer,” Poynter said. “It’s a tough act to follow Shane Buechele, but Chance has got great quarterback DNA. He’s got a lot of coach’s son in him.”

And Fuller has a shot to lead Lamar to a 7-on-7 state tournament championship. “We can win it if everybody plays up to their capabilities,” Wright said.

Poynter, whose three grown sons played football at Lamar, remembers how new and relatively small the 7-on-7 sport was when he first volunteered. The now-mammoth state tournament shows the growing stature of this summer sport.

“It was fun, but sparsely populated,” Poynter said. “Today, it’s a football carnival. It’s really blossomed.”

Poynter should know. Lamar never misses out on the carnival.

Sports digest

Softball honors

While the District 4-6A superlatives were dominated by out-of-town rivals this year, Martin catcher Olivia Reames snagged the MVP honor (shared with Fort Worth Paschal's Lydia Vidales) and Ashley Stone of Lamar was named Utility MVP.

First-team honors went to: Martin — Jenica Kevil, 3B; Jenna Rude, CF; and Jenna Eaton, pitcher. Arlington — Brooke Kolanek, 2B and Samantha Hernandez, SS. Lamar — Diana Evans, IF and Brittany Livingston, pitcher. Bowie — Hannah Dixon, 3B. Sam Houston — Kaylee Nicosia, pitcher.

Soccer tryouts

The Arlington Soccer Association will hold tryouts for its competitive teams beginning July 1 at the Harold Patterson Complex.

Information and registration: www.arlingtonsoccer.org

Youth summer athletics

Arlington Parks and Recreation is registering for youth volleyball and a lacrosse clinic. Both cost $75.

The lacrosse clinic is July 6 and is for ages 7-12, while the volleyball league is for ages 9-14 and begins competition on July 16.

Information: www.naturallyfun.org

YMCA summer sports camps

The Arlington YMCA will be hosting a summer soccer camp Aug. 8-11. The camp will cost $19 for members and $75 for program members and is for ages 5-14.

Soccer camp will be held at the Cooper Street YMCA.

Information: www.naturallyfun.org

Stephen English: senglish@star-telegram.com, @sbenglish74

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