According to the authority on Texas high school football, the Tolar Rattlers’ postseason streak will continue, and the Granbury Pirates’ will come to an end this season.
The Rattlers are picked third in the six-team District 7-2A Division I by “Dave Campbell’s Texas Football” magazine. The publication, which hit newstands this week, has the Pirates predicted sixth in the eight-team District 8-5A.
Both will be playing in one of the toughest districts to be found in their classifications.
The Rattlers (9-3, Class 2A area playoffs) will play alongside Hico, ranked fourth in the state, and No. 9 Goldthwaite. The district is also home to De Leon, a power last season.
In fact, Hico (13-2), Goldthwaite (8-5) and De Leon (9-4) shared the same district last season in Class A Division I. De Leon reached the regional semifinals, losing 14-13 to Goldthwaite, which lost 14-7 to Hico in the regional finals, and Hico fell 34-26 in the state semis to eventual champion Stamford.
Unlike Hico, Goldthwaite and Tolar, De Leon was decimated by graduation and is picked fifth. Hamilton (1-9), picked fourth, and San Saba (2-8) in sixth place round out the district.
“That’s what I figured,” said Tolar coach Mike Franklin upon learning of his team’s prediction.
“That’s fuel for our kids. Nobody expects anything out of us, and that’s a good rallying cry.”
The Rattlers travel to Hico on Oct. 17 and host Goldthwaite on Oct. 24.
In addition, the Rattlers take on two other state-ranked Class A Division I teams in predistrict. They host No. 10 Crawford on Aug. 29 and travel to No. 20 Bosqueville on Sept. 12.
Tolar reached the second round of the 2A playoffs the past two seasons.
With the February University Interscholastic League realignment came the addition of a Class 6A. Teams in each classification, pending qualifying enrollment, moved up as well.
Tolar’s enrollment would have sent the Rattlers back to Class A, but with the overall reclassification, they stayed in 2A and joined several other former Class A programs.
The Pirates are coming off a 9-2 season that saw them reach bidistrict for a fourth straight season. If they are going to break through to the second round, however, they will have to either wait another year or prove “Dave Campbell’s” wrong.
The latter will not be easy. The Pirates will share a district with four other playoff teams – three of which advanced in the postseason.
The Aledo Bearcats (16-0) won the Class 4A Division II state championship. Along the way they became the first team to score over 1,000 points in a season, which included a 72-6 defeat of the Pirates in the ninth game.
Aledo enters this season ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 5A.
Other playoff teams in 8-5A include Crowley (10-2, second round), Everman (8-4, second round), and Burleson (6-5, bidistrict).
Also, Cleburne (6-4) narrowly missed the postseason.
The Pirates are picked ahead of Burleson Centennial (2-8) and Joshua (0-10).
The Pirates’ predistrict schedule includes Azle (3-7), Denton (4-6), and Corsicana (2-7).
Along with moving into the tougher district, the Pirates are going to have to find a new quarterback. Two-time all-district selection Ryan Suitt is transferring to All-Saints, according to numerous sources.
It was also learned this week that the Pirates had several coaches resign, including defensive coordinator B.J. Carlton, varsity assistant Blaze Pendleton and freshmen coach Bradan Ritchey.
Head coach Scotty Pugh could not be reached for comment on the Dave Campbell’s prediction or coaching situation.
Among the private schools, North Central Texas Academy (NCTA) is picked to win Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) Six-Man Division III District 2. It is the first season for the third division in TAPPS play.
Also, Cornerstone is expected to finish second in Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship (TCAF) Division II District 1.
NCTA advanced to the second round of Division II last season, while Cornerstone fell in bidistrict in its first season in TCAF.
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