When Scotty Pugh was hired as Granbury Pirate head football coach in 2008, longevity was at the top of his wish list.
Now, as Pugh enters his sixth season at the helm, he has held the job longer than anyone in the past 35 years. Not since Gerald Hayworth was head coach from 1973-78 has a man held the position as long.
In between Hayworth and Pugh, 10 coaches came through the Pirates’ revolving door. Some held the job for a handful of seasons, Billy Mitchell (19-30-2 from 1983-87), Randy Leach (18-31-1 from 1990-94) and Biff Peterson (21-29 from 1996-2000). Others stayed no longer than a single season, Van Whatley (1-9 in 1979), Shay Nanny (2-8 in 1995) and Randy Blankenship (4-6 in 2001).
Pugh’s longevity also means this is the first group of seniors who have been in his system from seventh grade.
“I’m excited. For one thing, it’s having that consistency, knowing what to expect,” said Pugh.
“Hopefully, a lot of it is second nature to them now, and we can build on that.
“It’s nice to come into the fall and not have to start from scratch. The middle school kids are hearing the same things as the high school kids.
“I think it’s cool for a seventh-grader to see a varsity practice and know he’s running the same plays.”
Another thing Hayworth and Pugh have in common is they are the only coaches out of the dozen to lead the Pirates into bidistrict. Hayworth’s 1977 squad was the last to do so before Pugh guided the past three teams into bidistrict.
Mitchell’s 1987 team raised local hopes when they played in a district zone playoff, but lost. While those are games that extend the season, the University Interscholastic League does not recognize them as official playoff games.
Peterson’s 1998 team went 7-3, the most victories in nearly two decades. Last season’s Pirates matched that victory total, finishing 7-4.
The Pirates practiced in pads for the first time this past Friday, and Saturday held an intra-squad scrimmage.
“First and foremost, we’re looking at the speed at which we’re playing, along with taking care of teammates and execution of plays,” said Pugh of the scrimmage.
“I felt like we did a good job in all three.”
By taking care of teammates, Pugh said it’s simply playing hard, but being careful to not hurt anyone in the process.
“We say we’re going to go as hard as we can go with some sense,” he said.
“We go at game speed, not game simulation,” said Pugh.
STEPHENVILLE SCRIMMAGE FRIDAY
Because the Pirates held spring practices, they are only playing in one preseason scrimmage, other their own intra-squad matchup.
So they want to get the most by playing the best, Pugh said.
They will make their annual trek to Stephenville Friday to face the defending Class 3A Division I state champions. The Yellowjackets, in fact, set a record for most points in an 11-man state title game when they beat El Campo 70-35.
The Yellowjackets enter this season ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 3A by coaches across Texas. “Dave Campbell’s Texas Football” magazine has them third.
“Our reason from the very beginning is that as a football program, as a community, we can learn a great deal from them,” Pugh said of Stephenville.
“It’s one of the most storied programs in the state, if not the nation. In the whole town that’s the main thing, Yellowjacket football.”
This will be the fourth season to scrimmage Stephenville. After each of the previous three, the Pirates went on to reach the postseason. If history repeats itself, this season will mark only the second time the Pirates are in the postseason for a fourth straight year, matching the 1965-68 run.
“It has a different feel than a normal scrimmage,” Pugh said. “It’s been a great measuring stick for us each season, and we have learned things in this matchup that have helped us greatly during the season.
“This is a dress rehearsal for the next Thursday.”
The Pirates open the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 29 at Wichita Falls High (Memorial Stadium).
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