Rodney Dangerfield would no doubt have been a fan of the Granbury Pirates.
Because, like the late great comedian, they just don’t get their proper respect.
Granbury head coach Scotty Pugh said earlier this week that his Pirates (9-1) would enter last night’s Class 4A Division I bidistrict football game against Waco (7-3) at Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium as double-digit underdogs.
“When you say we beat the people we were supposed to beat this season, that’s interesting because the people who follow the sport had us big underdogs several times,” said Pugh.
Pugh said the Pirates were 28-point underdogs to Southwest despite playing at home. Likewise, he said they were seven-point underdogs to Arlington Heights, again playing at home.
Pugh said the underdog status, in spite of the record, stems from Granbury’s decades of being mired in mediocrity – or less – prior to the past four seasons.
“It takes a long time to undo what it took a long time to get into,” said Pugh.
“But we’re slowly making believers out of folks.”
The Pirates’ lone loss was 72-6 to Aledo. The same can be said of perennial state powers Stephenville (9-1, a 56-14 loser to the Bearcats) and Highland Park (9-1, 44-3 losers to Aledo).
“We’re a lot better than years ago, but we’re still not at the point where we aren’t considered underdogs to just about everybody we play,” said Pugh.
“But that’s okay, because ultimately it’s all settled on the field anyway.”
SCHEDULE TOUGHER THAN THOUGHT
Granted, with the exception of Aledo, the Pirates’ opponents in District 7-4A can hardly be called powerhouses. However, Pugh does note that the overall schedule was perhaps a little more competitive than people give credit.
Wichita Falls, 2-8 a season ago, improved to 5-5 and is in the playoffs out of District 5-4A. The Pirates defeated them 27-13 in Wichita Falls to open the season.
In finishing second in 7-4A, the Pirates also defeated Southwest (6-4) 49-40 and Arlington Heights (5-5) 37-30 in overtime. They also won 24-21 over South Hills (6-4), which narrowly missed the postseason.
Pugh said junior quarterback Ryan Suitt showed tremendous poise and maturity in rallying his team from a 30-14 deficit in the final quarter to defeat Heights last week. It came after the Pirates had turned the ball over five times and had gotten no turnovers from Heights.
“That’s what a true competitor does,” said Pugh. “He didn’t hang his head. He dug in and said he was going to lead them back and get the win.
“We are very fortunate to have Ryan as our quarterback, and that proved it once again.”
Not only did the Pirates continue their playoff streak this season, they continued climbing in the district standings each season during that streak.
When the Pirates broke the playoff drought of more than three decades in 2010, they finished fourth in district. The next season they tied for third, but owned the tiebreaker.
Last season they were third all by themselves. And this season they were alone in second.
“That’s the progress we’re looking for each season,” said Pugh. “That’s very important for our program to not just make the playoffs, but to go in with improvement each year.”
The next step for the Pirates would be their first district championship since 1977. Realignment is coming in early February, so Pugh does not know with whom the Pirates will share a district for the next two seasons.
But he is optimistic that with the returning talent and the right realignment, the Pirates could contend for a district title.
“I’m not making any predictions, but that would certainly be cool,” he said.
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