After missing the playoffs in 2022, the Granbury Lady Pirates weren't about to let this season end in the opening round of the postseason. Continuing a turnaround that began in district play, the Lady Pirates (19-22) swept Fort Worth Arlington Heights (25-13) in their bidistrict match Monday, Oct. 30 at Wilkerson-Greines Activities Center in Fort Worth.
The Lady Pirates took command of the match early, winning the first game 25-12. They followed with wins of 25-13 and 25-11.
The Lady Pirates finished third in the tough District 5-5A, while Heights was the 6-5A runner-up.
Granbury collected 48 kills in the match, led by Sienna Watts with 16, Kylie Moody with 11, Rachel Poirier with eight and Brooke Marak with seven. Poirier also served four of the team’s seven aces and Moody delivered four of its five blocks.
Defensively, Granbury thwarted the Lady Jackets with 64 digs. Watts and Bailey Blum each had 13, while Lilyan McCall had 11, along with 15 of the Lady Pirates’ 32 serve returns. Allyson McCabe set up 41 assists.
“I’m very excited and honored to be in this position with this group of girls,” Lady Pirates head coach Desiree Shahan said. “The bond and determination that they have is truly incredible. They have really kicked it in gear since district started and I’m excited for them to compete at this next level.
“They’ve been working really hard for this and I can’t wait to see what they can accomplish in this next round.”
The Lady Pirates began the season with a 9-19 record in pre-district. Since they have posted a 10-3 mark.
Granbury's district includes a pair of teams that spent much of the season in the state rankings, district champion Aledo (still ranked) and Justin Northwest, with whom Granbury split matches. All four playoff teams from the league (Azle is the fourth) advanced to the second round of the postseason, defeating their bidistrict opponents by a combined score of 12-1.
This is the Lady Pirates’ 13th appearance in 14 years and their first time to advance to the second round since 2019. They were playing Argyle (37-7), ranked No. 3 in the state at press time.
The Lady Rattlers (21-14) swept Quanah (7-20) in their Class 2A Region I bidistrict match in Graham on Tuesday, Oct. 31. Leading the Tolar attack was Ally Dobbs with her play at the net.
This is the sixth consecutive season for the Lady Rattlers to reach the playoffs and the third time they have advanced to the second round.
Tolar was playing Miles (29-9) in the area round at press time.
The Pirates' 2023 season came to an end at press time against Killeen Shoemaker in Killeen. A season that began with the promise of a 3-0 start slipped away on the scoreboard to a 3-7 finish.
However, head coach Sonny Galindo said a lot of positives came out of the season.
"My message: What mattered coming in is the same as what will matter later," Galindo began, adding:
"1. A team that will put their egos aside and play for the guy next to you harder than you ever have.
"2. Weight room, coachability, and habits that emit toughness matter, regardless of circumstances.
"3. Creating a culture change in behavior and resiliency on campus and on the field, controlling the controllables, realizing if we do our job then the name on the other bus doesn't matter.
"4. Embracing the unconditional support of those in our community and families and giving back time and blessings we can always spare.
"5. Knowing that difficult times bring us closer and separate others. Together takes on a new, lasting meaning.
"6. Playing the game the way it's supposed to be played. Hard-nosed, aggressive, smart, tough, and having fun. Someday there will be a conversation you'll have with yourself or a child/grandchild. The question will be, 'How did you play the game?' Be able to tell the truth with a smile on your face.
"7. The guy in the mirror should be your measuring stick. If he's criticizing you, listen.... if he's praising you, listen. It's God's words he's using.
"8. If your presence makes us better, then keep it up... if your absence makes us better, then change. Your leadership should have a lasting impact on others. Will you leave a mark or will you leave a scar?
"9. The desire from football is to win.... the lesson from football is to grow toward success.
"10. Love is a word that's okay to use and even better to feel.
"The young men involved in Pirate football are tasked with learning and retaining these lessons. We are proud of each of them for representing the program and qualities we stress."
The Pirates (1-6 in District 4-5A Division I) played their final home game of the season on Oct. 27, falling 27-3 to Red Oak. The Hawks are ranked No. 5 in the state in Class 5A Division I.
The Pirates played the Hawks tough and were only down 14-3 entering the fourth quarter. The Granbury defense limited Red Oak's running game to 40 yards on 19 carries.
Christian Paddack gave the Pirates a 3-0 lead on a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter. However, the following kickoff was returned 82 yards for a Red Oak touchdown.
Tyler Rodgers led the Granbury offense, picking up 42 rushing yards. The defense was paced by Rylan Brenish with nine tackles, including one for a loss and a sack, while Sam Sutherland had six tackles (one for a loss) and Amelio Rodriguez and Chase Cantrell each had five.
The Rattlers topped the 60-point barrier for a second consecutive week. In fact, they duplicated the score of the previous week when they defeated visiting Bangs 61-6 by doing the same at Goldthwaite.
Tolar (8-1 overall, 5-0 in District 5-2A Division I) remained No. 3 in the state this week. They were finishing the regular season at home last night against San Saba before beginning the postseason and their quest for the program's first state title next week against Trenton (4-5) Thursday, Nov. 9 at a site yet to be decided at press time.
“Playoff football is always a special time. There always seems to be a little more pep in your step as you roll into that stage of the season,” Tolar coach Jeremy Mullins said. “Our kids and coaches continue to do a great job of keeping the focus on the W.I.N. (What's Important Now).
“The current task at hand is finishing off the district season on a high note as we honor our seniors as they take the field at Rattler Stadium one last time. I'm just coming off the practice field and I felt like we had as good energy and focus today as we have had all year. This is a fun group to be a part of!”
In the win over Goldthwaite, Tolar quarterback Isaac Blessing threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more. He completed eight of nine passes for 198 yards and rushed seven times for 43.
Talan Culberson caught two of the Rattlers' touchdowns. Freshman Kelvin Murray rushed seven times for 55 yards and two TD and Garrison Nation's 67 yards on 10 carries included a score.
Leading a swarming defense was Drake Owens with 13 tackles, while Clayton Stembridge posted seven (2 for a loss). A slew of Rattlers had six tackles, including Murray, Julien Rodriguez, Hunter Michels (2 for a loss), Cash Clark and freshman Cayden Abrego (2 for a loss). Michels also had a sack.
Stembridge intercepted his fifth pass of the season. Michels and Owens also had interceptions, while Murray and Clark recovered fumbles.
As a team through nine games, the Rattlers had 16 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries on defense.
With the North Texas High School Rodeo Association season underway, several area competitors are among the league leaders in a few categories.
From Tolar, Joseph Rickabaugh is second in chute dogging, fourth in ride-up goat tying and eighth in walk-up goat tying. He is only 42 points out of first place in chute dogging.
Granbury's Tylee Proctor is fifth in breakaway roping, 91 points out of first in a tight race. Teammates Levi Johnson and Grace Burdich are seventh in chute dogging and seventh in walk-up goat tying, respectively.
Also from Tolar, Takota Kenley is fourth in team roping-header.
At the end of the regular season in May 2024, the top 15 in the standings in each event advance to the NTHSRA Finals.