The Collinsville Pirates’ magical season came to an end Friday, Nov. 23 when they fell to Riesel 58-45 in the area round of the Class 2A Division I playoffs.
The Pirates claimed the District 5-2A title for just the third time in the school’s history on the way to the top seed in the district and an 8-1 regular-season record.
Collinsville head coach Dale West said it was a tough loss to Riesel, but he was proud of the season the Pirates put together.
“After having the weekend to reflect, looking back, we had a fantastic season,” West said. “We made the kids believe in games that maybe we shouldn’t have been in. To go 10-2 and win a district championship was a great year. Our seniors left a legacy here and tradition. Every team besides one in each division, goes home unsatisfied. To beat the likes of Celeste and Valley View was a great season. I’m just proud I could ride it with these kids.”
The Pirates slogged through several rain-trodden games and had one team cancel on them at the last minute.
Collinsville downed Celeste 22-19 on Nov. 2 to claim a share of the district title and won it outright the next week with a 38-0 win over Trenton.
The Pirates trounced Como-Pickton 42-8 in the opening, bi-district round of the playoffs before falling to Riesel.
“They were a good football team,” West said of Riesel. “It was nothing we didn’t know from the film. They were explosive on offense and they exposed some stuff we couldn’t make adjustments to on offense. Our kids did their best and played their hearts out.”
Riesel outgained the Pirates in yards 579-458, but the Indians employed a more balanced attack.
They threw for 275 yards and ran for 304 yards, which West thought was a big advantage for the Indians.
“With their balanced offense, they put us in a bind,” West said. “We either had to put one more defender against the run or keep one more back and they just exploited it. Once we got going, you could kind of get the feel that it was going to be a high-scoring game. We had some injuries that hurt us too.”
The Pirates ran for 456 yards and held a 15-6 advantage after the first quarter on Garrett Vannoy’s 29-yard touchdown run, but the Indians answered with a 22-point spurt to claim a 28-15 lead midway through the second quarter.
Both teams exchanged leads and Collinsville had a 45-44 lead after a Trey Shelby 57-yard touchdown and 2-point conversion from Vannoy.
However, the Indians scored the final two touchdowns of the game to come away with the win.
“We were scoring with them, but they got a stop,” West said. “Our offense scored fast, which wasn’t normal for us, which left our defense out there for a long time. Our defense was gassed and couldn’t get a stop and they got a stop when it mattered.”
West said there were a few opportunities that slid through the Pirates’ fingers that could have won them the game.
“It’s a tough loss, but I believe our coaching staff got the most out of our kids,” West said. “We did as good as we could to win the game, but they made a few more plays than we did. They were a good team and just had a better night than we did. I think we were pretty evenly matched. They fumbled the ball twice but we couldn’t jump on it.”
Shelby led the Pirates’ offense with 249 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries while Vannoy was good for 163 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.
“Our offensive line has come a long way since week one,” West said. “We opened up some holes and the backs ran hard. It’s tough to swallow because when we have that much on offense, we keep the ball away from their offense. It kind of worked against us. We scored a few touchdowns really fast which led to our defense being on the field a lot and worn out.”
Despite losing in the second round for the third consecutive season, West said it was important for the Pirates to remain dissatisfied.
Still, West lauded his team for buying into what the coaches were teaching.
“They didn’t buck anything we told them,” West said. “They made it a whole lot of fun. They tried to achieve everything we wanted them to and we had a great year. A lot of people quantify seasons with wins or losses, but we have a great group of kids in our locker room. Whether they’re great husbands and fathers 10-15 years down the road is what’s important.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip