Transferring from tradition-rich Carthage High School during the last school year, new Beckville quarterback Jaylon Allison has brought confidence and a revived winning attitude to the Bearcats' football program.
Add that to the Beckville ISD's addition of former Carthage defensive coordinator Eric Robinson as the district's new athletics director and head football coach and the Bearcats are ready to start the 2012 season on a positive.
But wait, it's only June. Apparently the program isn’t waiting until then.
Robinson and Allison led the Bearcats into their first-ever state qualifying 7-on-7 tournament (Tyler Junior College SQT) on Saturday at Lindsey Park and came away with one of the two qualifying berths to the Texas Division II State Tournament at Texas A&M in College Station on July 19-20. The Division I state tourney is July 20-21.
Not bad for a first try.
Allison was a key to the state qualifying run as he completed 64-of-98 (65.3%), with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions to lead Beckville to a 2-2 record in the four games played.
During the state-tournament clinching win against Shelbyville, Allison and the Bearcats scored touchdowns on each drive. This came after three grueling hours of qualifying games in the hot afternoon sun.
"Our motto here is 'Compete or accept defeat' and we weren't about to accept defeat," Allison said after the dramatic 35-34 win over the Dragons that clinched a spot at Texas A&M next month. "We've been competing and having fun and believing in everything Coach Robinson is doing. And even before he got here my teammates believed in me and I believed in them and we were already talking about winning state."
Allison said he believes the success the team is experiencing this summer will carry over to the fall and the 2012 Bearcat season, which begins Aug. 31 when Beckville visits Tyler T.K. Gorman for the season opener.
"Playing 7-on-7 is helping us to get our timing down," he described. "It helps you define who are going to be your key receivers and who is going to make the big plays when there is 10 seconds left on the clock and you're down by a touchdown, or going for the two-point conversion and you're down by one."
Allison had a number of players who stepped up during the four games on Saturday. Junior-to-be Joey Wharmby scored six touchdowns and added four one-point conversions for 40 points on the day. He also picked off a pass while playing defense.
Senior-to-be Colten Allen scored four TDs, added the winning two-point conversion and also chipped in a one-point extra point. Allen also made his presence felt on defense, picking off two passes.
Colton Searcy, Jake Tondreau and Dalton Etheredge each chipped in two touchdowns apiece, while Ben Davis intercepted a pass.
The Bearcats had strong second-half performances in several games, despite fielding only 13 players for the tournament.
"I thought they got better every single game," said Robinson after watching the competition. "And even though they were tired I we (the coaching staff) learned something about them every single game. I couldn't be prouder."
Allison and the team showed a will to win in the second half of each game.
In their opener against Sabine, the Beckville quarterback completed 10-of-15 (66.7%) and two scores in the first half, but rebounded to connect on 11-of-13 (84.6%) for three touchdowns in the second half in the 30-20 BHS win.
Against Kaufman, Allison was 6-of-12 (50%) and one score at the break, but improved that to 8-of-11 (72.7%) and two touchdowns in the second half. The same result came in the Mount Vernon game as the quarterback was limited to just 4-of-11 at the break, but hit 9-of-13 (69.2%) in the final 20 minutes, throwing a pair of scores in the second half, compared to one in the first.
The senior led the Bearcats to five consecutive scoring drives in the championship round game against Shelbyville, finishing the contest completing 16-of-24 (66.7%). Trailing on five different occasions, the Bearcats rallied, scoring the final TD with less than a minute to go when Allison maneuvered his team 45 yards for the game-winning score. He hit Wharmby twice on the drive and then connected with Colten Searcy for the final touchdown and then teamed up with Allen for the game-winning conversion with just seconds left.
"Oh yeah, any time you can compete and win, that's just another advantage you have in the game," Robinson noted. "In the season you can talk about this, when they were down and came back and won at the end.
"They've been there and they (successfully came back); and they know they've been there before and were able to come back and win. That's confidence.
"That's what this competition is all about."
Beckville will finish its 7-on-7 action on Thursday, June 28, and then work toward the date in College Station in July. And regardless of the outcome at State, it appears that the program is already making giant steps forward even before two-a-days start in August.
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