Granbury’s best football season in a decade and a half didn’t result in a playoff victory, but that part of the progress is right around the corner, said several seniors as they left the dressing room for a final time following a 34-10 bidistrict loss to Crowley.
“This team has the talent to go pretty deep in the next year or two,” said senior linebacker Caleb Bendewald. “The young guys on this team just keep getting better and better.”
Bendewald is one of 28 seniors the Pirates will lose to graduation, down from the 37 the previous two seasons.
That means, of course, the number of returning players is up. The majority of the roster this season as the Pirates went 7-4 were underclassmen, including 17 sophomores and 28 juniors.
They will lead the charge as the team goes for a fourth consecutive playoff appearance in 2013, something that has only happened once before at the school (1965-68). They will also be the ones hoping to get the program’s first playoff victory since 1967.
“This team is going far in the next couple of years,” said senior offensive lineman Barry Beadle. “It’s the next step, and I think they are the ones who can take it.
“I thought this team could do it (win a playoff game), but our offense just didn’t flow the way we wanted it to tonight.
“But we definitely made progress this year, just as we did the last two.”
The seven wins are the most for Granbury since the 1998 team went 7-3.
This year’s Pirates, as did the 2011 team, finished third in district. The 2010 squad was fourth.
The Pirates lose the bulk of their running game with seniors Justice Love (832 yards, 16 touchdowns), Brandon Fichter (358 yards, 6 TDs), Mike Milson (298 yards, 3 TDs) and Jake Blake (169 yards, 1 TD). Only sophomore quarterback Ryan Suitt (145 yards) returns from the top five rushers.
The passing game, however, is loaded with returning players, led by Suitt. He was one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the Fort Worth area (56 percent completions, 1,687 yards, 14 TDs, 10 interceptions).
His top receiver, sophomore Nick Doughty (31 catches, 470 yards, 4 TDs) is also back, along with juniors Skylar Baskin (17 catches, 302 yards, 2 TDs) and Daniel Arnett (20 catches, 154 yards, 1 TD).
The defensive side of the ball is also going to have some solid experience returning (regular-season tackles only), including sophomores Evan Sledge (40 tackles, 1 interception), Taylor Petty (69 tackles, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, 1 blocked field goal) and Jacob Rose (30 tackles, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries) among the defensive backs. The linebacking corps also looks to be strong again with the likes of juniors Dakota Doucet (47 tackles), Brice Ables (25 tackles, 1 fumble recovery) and Zach Scott (62 tackles, 3 fumble recoveries) coming back, and junior Alex Brown (35 tackles, 1 fumble recovery) is a highlight on the defensive line.
Special teams featured the perfect kicking of Rose. He did not miss an extra point (40-for-40) or a field goal (6-for-6).
“These young guys got a taste of the playoffs and success, and it should give them motivation,” said head coach Scotty Pugh.
“Those seniors have just passed the torch. Now let’s see what the younger guys can do with it.”
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