La Villa, the little 1-A school that could, could and did win the National High School Coaches Association 7on7 Tournament in Bradenton, Florida on Saturday afternoon.
The Cardinals, coached by Robert Perez and quarterbacked by AJ Garza, with wide receiver Ricky Cantu as his number one target, defeated the home team, Southeast HS from Bradenton, 39-29 in the championship game. The Cardinals won all 5 pool games on Thursday, fell in both outings Friday, but came out strong in bracket play on Saturday, defeating Crisp (GA) 38-13 in the 1st game avenging the previous day's loss to that team. From there, La Villa, the smallest football program in the Rio Grande Valley, kept the momentum rolling, defeating then-unbeaten Wren, followed by their 1st win over Southeast of the day, 30-29. That sent Southeast to the consolation bracket, where they would emerge to challenge La Villa one last time.
Earlier in the summer at the State 7on7 tournament in College Station, La Villa's impressive performance in defeating state-ranked 3A power Lucas Lovejoy caught the attention of the NHSCA 7on7 organizers, who offered the Cards a berth in their 9-team field.
The players held car washes and volleyball tournaments to raise money for the trip, as 7on7 is not a UIL activity, and no school funds may be used, and no school employees may take part.
La Villa ends the 7on7 season with 60 wins and 8 losses.