FORT WORTH – The Granbury Pirates football program has accomplished a lot in recent seasons, breaking a 30-plus-year bidistrict drought, and then reaching the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time in just as long.
Now, as they try for a playoff trifecta , which hasn’t happened since the mid-1960s, they can do a lot to help themselves as they host Fort Worth Western Hills Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Pirates (4-1, 2-0 in District 7-4A) can open district with three straight wins for the first time since 1987. They can also win their fifth consecutive game in a season for the first time since they began the 1981 campaign with a 5-0 record.
“We still have a lot of room to grow with our young players, but they are playing great,” said Granbury athletic director Dwight Butler.
“They’re playing with a lot of focus, and they’re playing with a lot of discipline.”
For a second time in three seasons the Pirates improved to 4-1 after dropping their season opener as they shut out O.D. Wyatt 21-0 in Clark Stadium last Friday. On the same night, Western Hills (2-3, 1-1) was being shellacked 62-14 by Southwest.
The Pirates enter the game against Western Hills tied for first place with Aledo and Southwest.
Friday’s game will feature two of the top runners in the Metroplex in 4A. Aaron Stevenson of Western Hills is second with 944 yards on 110 carries with eight touchdowns, while Justice Love of Granbury is seventh with 544 yards and nine touchdowns on 78 carries.
Love, who also has a touchdown receiving, is tied for seventh in scoring with 60 points.
Overall, the Western Hills offense is second in rushing, gaining an average of 330.6. The Cougars will be facing the area’s fifth-best scoring defense in the Pirates (12.0), who posted their first shutout since 2010.
Granbury, however, has made a habit of shutting down top players. After keeping South Hills quarterback Anthony Blake and receiver Antwan Roberson in check in a 41-20 district-opening win, they limited Wyatt quarterback Ladell Marshall and top receiver Deon Daniels last Friday.
Marshall, as he has done all season, accounted for most of the Chaparrals’ yardage, but it was mostly between the 20-yard lines. Only once did Wyatt (2-3, 0-2) seriously threaten to score, and they turned the ball over on downs at the Granbury 4.
Marshall finished with 71 yards rushing on 17 carries and was 9-for-15 passing for 120 yards with an interception. Daniels caught two passes for 18 yards.
Granbury, meanwhile, got 156 yards rushing on 16 carries from backup quarterback Brandon Fichter as the Pirates found more success running the ball – a strong asset of his. More than a third of those yards (58) came in a fourth-quarter drive that ate up 7:18 off the clock and ended with a 17-yard touchdown run by Love.
It was Love’s second touchdown of the night. He also had a 24-yarder to start the scoring in the second quarter, as his scores were sandwiched around a 15-yard TD run by Fichter, also in the second.
The Pirates overcame five turnovers in the victory, the most they’ve had in a game this season. They threw the first of two interceptions on their first play of the game, but got the ball back on downs when Wyatt couldn’t convert a fourth-and-8 at the Granbury 21.
They fumbled the second-half kickoff. Wyatt followed by reaching the Granbury 10, but again gave the ball back when a fourth-and-goal pass came up short at the 4.
Another fumble recovery went for naught for the Chaps when they came up inches short on fourth-and-2 at the Granbury 40. And Wyatt escaped another Granbury score when, following a 54-yard run, the Pirates fumbled into the end zone and the Chaps recovered.
Wyatt took over at its own 20 and reached the Granbury 40 before Taylor Petty’s interception thwarted another drive.
The stingy Granbury defense was led by linebacker Caleb Bendewald with 18 tackles.
“We fit on our assignments pretty much all night and rarely got caught out of position,” said Granbury defensive coordinator B.J. Carlton. “We ran to the ball really well and had four, five or six or more on nearly every tackle.
“We had some turnovers. However, the offense went on several time-consuming drives that kept them off the field. You don’t get shutouts against really athletic teams if you let them stay on the field.”
The Pirates were outstanding in converting third downs against Wyatt (7-for-9), while holding the Chaps to 4-for-11.
Through the first three quarters, Wyatt had a commanding advantage in time of possession by more than seven minutes. However, in the final quarter, Granbury had the ball for 8:08 compared to 3:52 for Wyatt.
Now, as the Pirates go for a fifth straight win and a 3-0 start to district, they also hope to do something neither of those teams in 1981 or 1987 could do – reach bidistrict.
Repeated efforts to reach Granbury coach Scotty Pugh to discuss the game before deadline were unsuccessful.
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Pirates 21, Chaparrals 0
Granbury 0 14 0 7 – 21
Wyatt 0 0 0 0 — 0
G – Justice Love 24 run (Jacob Rose kick)
G – Brandon Fichter 15 run (Rose kick)
G – Love 17 run (Rose kick)
First downs 15 14
Rushing yards 36-288 41-155
Passing yards 73 146
Comp-att-int 6-12-2 10-17-1
Punts-avg. 1-34.0 3-25.0
Fumbles-lost 3-3 1-1
Penalties 3-20 6-55
Granbury – Brandon Fichter 16-156, Justice Love 9-65, Daniel Arnett 3-38, Ryan Suitt 5-24, Jake Blake 3-5.
Wyatt – Javonte Adams 20-76, Ladell Marshall 17-71, Ricky Musgrove 2-4, Dequaylon Gray 2-4.
Granbury – Suitt 6-11-2, 73 yards; Fichter 0-1-0.
Wyatt – Marshall 9-15-1, 120 yards; Deon Daniels 1-3-0, 26 yards.
Granbury – Skylar Baskin 1-44, Love 3-26, Nick Doughty 2-3.
Wyatt – Byron Smith 1-60, Marshall 1-26, Daniels 2-18, Nathan Miller 3-17, Quinton Singleton 1-16, Dezmond Martin 1-10, Adams 1-9.
Granbury tackles – Caleb Bendwald 18, Zach Scott 12, Nathan Urbanovsky 11, Taylor Petty 10, Tristen Gilmore 9.
Granbury sacks – Dakota Doucet 1, Alex Brown 1, Brandon Lane 1.
Granbury interceptions – Petty 1.
Granbury fumble recovery – Brown 1.