Stephenville head coach Joe Gillespie says he looks forward to scrimmaging Granbury every year, and it's no different as he prepares for Friday's 7 p.m. meeting with the 4A Pirates at Tarleton Memorial Stadium.
Freshman teams scrimmage at 5 p.m. and the junior varsities duel at 6 p.m. before the varsity scrimmage, which Gillespie says is always beneficial to his team.
That's largely because of the friendship between Gillespie and Granbury head coach Scotty Pugh.
"Coach Pugh and I have a great relationship," Gillespie said of the former Highland Park offensive coordinator who has lifted Granbury from the 4A cellar to consecutive playoff appearances. "We want to help them get better and they want to help us get better.
"I think they're going to be real similar to what they were last year," Gillespie added. "We're going to make each other aware of any changes to what we're doing from years past. We don't play them for anything, so we look at it as a chance for both teams to improve."
Granbury was 5-6 last year, falling in the opening round of the 4A Division I playoffs for the second consecutive year. The Pirates' last playoff trip had come 14 years prior.
Now 3A, Stephenville is coming off an 11-3 campaign that saw the Yellow Jackets reach the 4A Division II quarterfinals for the third time in four years under Gillespie. They showed flashes of greatness while rolling past 5A Haltom and 4A The Colony in scrimmage play last week.
"I think we saw a lot of great things in that scrimmage," Gillespie said. "One of the big concerns I had last week was our linebackers because they are so green and had to line up with two different offenses coming at them. But I thought those guys did well. We kept it manila and that helped them keep from over thinking things and continue to be physical. I thought they ran to the football as well as we ever have, and that's exciting to see.
"My big concern on the offensive side, of course, was with the offensive line," he continued. "With so many new guys you never really know how they're coming until you throw them out there against somebody. The Colony blitzed quite a bit, especially for a scrimmage, and I think our O-line did a good job communicating and picking up their defense."
Gillespie feels the Jackets will benefit much more from Friday's scrimmage.
"The format will allow us to get a lot more done," he said. "We'll be able to drive the ball down the field and work on more game scenarios, which can only make both teams better. We'll get into different down and distance situations, have the ball at different positions on the field, just face more game situations all the way around."
He said the scrimmage will end with at least one quarter of game simulation, possibly as much as two.
"We want to keep it controlled for the most part. While we do want to be physical, we also want to keep our kids healthy and we want to keep their kids healthy," he said. "But we both have a season to get ready for, so we'll definitely pin our ears back and let the dogs loose for a quarter for two."
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