A NEW BEGINNING: Granbury Pirate head football coach Scotty Pugh walks onto the new synthetic turf on Johnny Perkins Field at Pirate Stadium shortly after midnight Sunday night/Monday morning for Midnight Madness. The first practice of the football season, held under the lights, annually signals the beginning of a new season. This is the fifth season for Midnight Madness, and in each of the previous four the Pirates showed significant improvement in the ensuing season, including reaching the playoffs the past three. It was also the first activity on the state-of-the-art new turf, which was installed during the summer. The Pirates will play their first game on the new field Sept. 6 against Fort Worth North Side.
There were a lot of bleary eyes Monday in Granbury, and for some it was the longest work day of the year.
No one seemed to be complaining, but it might have been a good day to consider taking out some stock in the coffee industry.
The loss of sleep Sunday night/Monday morning meant the beginning of a brand new football season for the Granbury Pirates.
And they’ll be playing on a spankin’ new artificial turf on Johnny Perkins Field at Pirate Stadium.
The fifth annual Midnight Madness was held. One minute past the stroke of the witching hour, over 105 Granbury Pirates took to the field, the first steps toward what they are hoping will be their fourth consecutive playoff berth.
That hasn’t happened since Lyndon B. Johnson was president (1965-68 for those typing into Google right now to see when LBJ was in office). It’s also the only time it happened in the history of Granbury Pirate football.
Of course, holding the first practice at midnight probably isn’t the reason the Pirates have reached the playoffs three straight seasons, or why they’ve shown significant improvement each season in which it’s been held. But athletes, coaches and fans are a superstitious lot, so if practicing in the wee morning hours to start the season is followed by the postseason three months later, good luck trying to get that schedule changed.
“It’s good to have those expectations,” said Granbury coach Scotty Pugh. “The kids want those high expectations.”
Besides, Midnight Madness is a blast. For the players, it’s a ceremonious beginning to a new season, with each one thinking it will be the best yet (and given this year’s crop of talent, it could be the best in a long time).
For the fans, it’s a chance to see their beloved team for the first time, and to exchange predictions about how the team will fare this season.
And while it may be late at night, there is no shortage of energy among an enthusiastic Pirate Nation.
“The Pirates will go 9-1 and win a playoff game,” said former Pirate receiver Tyler Wright, who was among those checking out the new field.
Wright caught everything this side of Bluff Dale in 2010 to lead the Pirates to their first bidistrict game since party lines were still a part of the telephone system (1977).
To which longtime fan Jim Stinchcomb jumped up and responded, “I hate to correct you buddy, but they’re going farther than that.”
It would come as no surprise if the Pirates did indeed advance in the playoffs for the first time since 1967. It may only be the first practice, but it’s clear this is a good team.
“I think they’ll be close to undefeated,” said Mikala Winn, an eighth-grade cheerleader at Granbury Middle School, adding that her favorite part of Midnight Madness is a reunion with her friends after a summer apart.
For Mandi Lane, an Acton Middle School eighth-grade cheerleader, the best part of Midnight Madness is “just being out late with your parents not minding.”
As for the Pirates’ success in 2013, she added, “I think they’ll do better than last year.”
Kevin Moore, a quarterback for the GMS eighth-grade Pirates, pulls no punches with his prediction.
“Dude, they’re going to go undefeated,” he said with excitement.
Freshman quarterback Drake Kirk, who saw his first action on the new turf later Monday, said he is bursting with anticipation to be a part of the on-field action of Midnight Madness next year.
“Just looking at the players, I think to myself ‘in a little while that’s going to be me out there,’” he said. “I like the atmosphere of this, just breathing it all in.
“I’ve been on the new field playing catch, and it feels fantastic. I can’t wait to play an actual game on it.”
If things go as expected, when Drake gets his first taste of Midnight Madness as a player, the Pirates will be trying to extend their playoff streak to five seasons.
And maybe we can persuade local officials to make this a local holiday, getting the day off work Monday.
Something to sleep on.
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