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Tripp McAda called it one of the craziest experiences he’s ever been a part of.

McAda, a two-way star for Sunnyvale football, was talking about his team’s recent — and successful — time at the 7-on-7 state tournament held June 27-28 in College Station. Sunnyvale emerged from the tournament as the Division II champion, but it’s not winning that is crazy to the Raiders. The path to the title included a championship bracket at 9 a.m. June 28 and involved five games, the usual Texas summer heat and lots of battles with staying hydrated.

The result: five wins including a 34-27 win over Pleasant Grove for the crown.

“We started early that morning and we just fought and we kept saying there’s one more game, one more game,” McAda — who quarterbacks the squad — told Texas Scorecard. “All of the sudden, we got to where we were in the championship and it was the second half we were up and we were like, we can win this thing, and we fought, we clawed and we finished and we were able to come through with the win.”

Defense was the key for Sunnyvale’s win, McAda said. Sunnyvale allowed an average of 17.2 points per contest in its five championship-bracket games, with Pleasant Grove’s title-game point total being about 10 points under its tourney average.

The title was a high point of a busy offseason for numerous Raiders. McAda said since about Christmas, a group of roughly 20 players have been getting together at 5 a.m. three times a week for workouts. That self-motivation has been a bonding experience.

“Just having that family mentality through that has really helped us,” McAda said.

The Raiders hope the passion and chemistry cultivated in the offseason will grow into postseason success in 2019 after two straight early postseason exits, including last season’s one loss coming in the bi-district playoff. 

“I feel like this 7-on-7 tournament really showed us that, you know, we can compete with the best and we can beat the best and this is our time to make a run,” McAda said.

For McAda, who also plays on defense, his impending senior season offers another chance to focus on an area to improve. After last year when he came in vowing to cut his turnovers — he went from nine interceptions in 2017 to four last year — McAda said he wants to better his completion percentage.

“It’s hard to get first downs and yards when you can’t complete the ball, so I’m hoping to increase that completion percentage by over 10 percent,” he said.