Pickler turns a corner to lead Panthers

Posted Monday, Nov. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The Griffin Pickler revival is nothing short of miraculous. Now, that may not be the right word to use to describe how Pickler has evolved into a different quarterback for Colleyville Heritage.

But there’s no denying how Pickler, a senior, has changed in the final four games of the season and has the Panthers (8-2) streaking into Friday’s Class 5A Division II Region I bi-district playoff game against Denton Ryan (8-2) at 7:30 p.m. at Mustang-Panther Stadium. The winner advances to the area round and will face the winner of Waco Midway-Mansfield. Colleyville Heritage has won six straight games.

For the season, Pickler has completed 67 percent of his attempts for 2,134 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. In the last four games against Irving, Irving Nimitz, Carrollton R.L. Turner and Hurst L.D. Bell, he’s completed 67 percent of his throws for 1,267 yards with 21 touchdowns and one interception. He threw for 318 yards and six touchdowns in the 49-16 victory over the Blue Raiders.

So it doesn’t take a lot of math to figure out where he was through the first six games. He had thrown for 867 yards with four TD passes and five interceptions including a dreadful 29-yard, two-interception performance against Irving MacArthur.

Coach Mike Fuller stressed that after the horrible night against MacArthur, he changed the way the team practiced, added some accountability measures and simplified things for Pickler, who has done nothing but excel.

“Being simple unclutters his mind because there’s not as many things he has to think about,” Fuller said. “But it helps me as a coach because we’re finding ways to play to his strength.”

While the dominant performances against Irving, Nimitz and R.L. Turner likely were greeted with a skeptical eye, the performance against L.D. Bell may have served as some validation.

“Anytime you win a football game you’re more confident,” Fuller said. “To other people, when you’re beating some teams that are struggling, that may mean something different. But the Bell game validates it a little more.”

Notable

Colleyville Heritage has won the last six meetings against L.D. Bell … Running back DeMarco Corbin (undisclosed) was pretty much at full strength last week against L.D. Bell and had five rushing and receiving touches including a 22-yard touchdown reception. Having a healthy Corbin will mean quite a bit in this offense’s effectiveness. “We’re expecting a big game,” Fuller said. “He had some good runs for us in the first half. But when we got up, we kept him on the bench.”… Also expect Ryan Phillippe to remain a two-way starter as he has for the last three games ... Wide receiver Brett Bofinger (ankle) is likely a game-time decision ... Expect Jacob Sisk to contribute on both sides. As Fuller has said, “There is no tomorrow.”… Because AT&T Stadium in Arlington wasn’t available this weekend because Saturday’s Baylor-Texas Tech, Fuller won the home-and-home flip to play the bi-district playoff at Mustang-Panther Stadium. Fuller said he’s never been a part of something like that.

About Denton Ryan

The Broncos under Joey Florence are a rugged running team and finished third in District 5-5A to Coppell and Lewisville Hebron. They are led by a thunder and lightning attack between Tyrone Williams (882 yards, 8.2 ypg) and Maurice Gordon (553, 7.6). Quarterback Mitchell Bridges has thrown for 1,252 yards and 12 scores. That means there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the defensive line to hold up.

“They really have great fronts on both sides of the ball,” Fuller said. “That district is usually pretty low scoring. The key for us is our defense limiting how well they run it.”

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