The 2017 Glen Rose football team set a new standard for excellence after winning nine games in a row and posting back-to-back undefeated district championships while setting new school records along the way.
“The bar these seniors have set for the people following them is where it needs to be and now we need to have guys that want to fill those shoes and want to get the job done,” Glen Rose football coach Cliff Watkins said. “They are going to have to come to work every day to be able to accomplish those things.”
In going 9-2 overall and 5-0 in district for the second straight season, the Tigers set or tied a total of 11 individual and team records along the way.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s an offensive or defensive or an individual deal, it all comes because of what the team was able to do together,” Watkins said.
Junior running back Westen Halcom alone set five new records: yards in a season (1,527); yards in a game (277 vs. Godley); rushing TDs in a game (5 vs. Godley); points scored in a game (36 vs. Godley); and rushing TDs in a season (23).
Linebacker Ricky Douglas set a new school record in tackles for loss in a game (7), and quarterback Cameron Griffin tied a school record for passing TDs in a game (6).
As a team, the Tigers set a record for points in a season (548); total yards in a season (5,236); average yards per game (478.5) and fewest yards allowed in a game (40 vs. Benbrook).
“We were very disappointed with the way it ended, but I told the guys they have so much to hold their heads up for with all the things the seniors have done the last two years,” said Watkins, whose team lost to Vernon 42-28 in the first round of the Class 4A Div. II state playoffs. “Even though it didn’t end great, we had a great season.”
Offensively, the Tigers averaged 478.5 yards per game, and it was split almost evenly passing (243.8) and rushing (234.7).
“That was one of the reasons we were able to have so much success as we did on offense was because of the balance we had,” Watkins said.
Halcom carried the load on the ground for the Tigers in averaging 152.7 yards per game in 10 games. Griffin had 491 yards and eight scores and Garrett Gilbreath chipped in with 391 yards on 60 carries and three TDs.
Griffin completed 153 of 274 passes for 2,616 yards 34 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. He completed passes to 10 different receivers — and six had at least 13 catches or more and seven had one touchdown or more.
“Cameron stepped in and had a really strong year,” Watkins said. “By throwing for 34 touchdowns there were a lot of guys on the other end of those passes that really stepped up and made plays.”
Dakota Paschall led the receivers with 40 catches for 926 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Tyler Torres had 33 catches for 440 yards and seven scores and Hunter Hawkins added 21 catches for 336 yards and three TDs. Drayden James finished with 19 catches for 331 yards and six TDs while Jess Niedziela added 13 catches for 245 yards and five touchdowns.
Defensively, the Tigers allowed just 19.3 points per game and recorded back-to-back shutouts in a 52-0 win over Lake Worth and a 68-0 win over Venus. They almost had three in a row but gave up a score just before the half in a 56-6 win over Benbrook.
“Defensively, we played really, really great,” Watkins said “They did a great job all year long for us forcing turnovers. We hung our hat on that all year long, and the defense did a great job of getting off the field and forcing turnovers and flying around.”
The Tigers recorded 31 turnovers (19 fumbles, 12 interceptions), 24 sacks and 132 tackles for loss.
Douglas led the Tigers with 128 tackles and 16 tackles for loss and Bryan Pounds had 123 stops and 17 tackles for loss. Tanner Stroud recorded 93 tackles and a team-best 18 tackles for loss, while Logan Thames had 70 tackles followed by Keegan Bunt (69), Niedziela (57), River Costello (53), Jake Andersen (51) and Connor Hansen (50).
Niedziela had a team-high six sacks and a team-high three fumble recoveries, and Justin Huckabee added five sacks, while Pounds and Stroud added three sacks each. James had a team-high four interceptions and Hansen and Andersen had two each.
Kicker Reynaldo Reyna was 3 for 3 in field goals with a long of 29 yards, and he connected on 67 of 73 extra-point attempts.
“Our guys loved coming to work every day,” Watkins said. “We had good practices throughout the year and they were having fun doing what they were doing.”