SPORTS HEADLINES

2016-17 In Review: Eagles soar to new heights

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, June 28, 2017
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Banner Year

BANNER YEAR – Several Decatur teams made long playoff runs this past year. The Decatur baseball team reached the Class 4A Region II final. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

In the season opening victory over Springtown, the Decatur Eagles football team piled up 785 yards and scored 74 points.

The performance seemed to set the pace for the entire Decatur athletics program during the 2016-17 school year, with team after team producing electric moments. From senior Parker Hicks scoring 60 points in a basketball game to Jaime Prado and the Eagles soccer team recording the program’s first postseason wins to Bryce Elder’s back-to-back no-hitters in the baseball playoffs.

All but the Decatur softball team, who lost an all-district pitcher during the season to an injury, made the postseason. Only the girls basketball team of those in the postseason didn’t get past the opening round of the playoffs.

“We didn’t win any state championships, but we couldn’t ask for more of our kids,” said Decatur athletic director Mike Fuller. “In all sports, they represented the school, town and community with pride. Our coaches also did a great job.”

Decatur experienced the success while playing in one of the toughest leagues in 4A: 9-4A. The district produced the softball (Krum), girls basketball (Argyle) and boys golf (Argyle) state champions. The league also produced state tournament teams in boys basketball and volleyball (Argyle). Argyle captured the 4A Lone Star Cup.

The soccer district, 3-4A, also featured a state finalist (Bridgeport).

“Every sport we did well playing in an all-around tough district,” Fuller said. “I think that prepared us better for the playoffs.”

Decatur won or garnered a share of four district titles – boys and girls cross country, boys basketball and girls track.

The Eagles football team won its first bi-district title since 2013, beating Stephenville. Decatur fell to Levelland in a shootout, 82-73, in the area round.

“It was good to beat Stephenville after getting our hearts ripped out by them two years in a row,” Fuller said.

The Decatur boys basketball team took the defending 4A champions, Dallas Lincoln, to overtime before falling in a tight game in the Region II quarterfinal.

The Decatur volleyball squad also made the region quarterfinal.

The program’s lone state appearance was by the girls cross country team. Decatur finished sixth.

BEST TEAM: DECATUR BASEBALL

Led by dominating pitching, the Decatur Eagles made the program’s second region final appearance.

Decatur ace and Texas signee Bryce Elder threw no-hitters against Dallas Pinkston and Melissa in the playoffs. He then shutdown Texarkana Pleasant Grove for seven innings of game two of the region final before having to come out of the scoreless game. Decatur fell 1-0 in eight innings.

On the way to the region final, Decatur won a pair of three-game series over Melissa and Sanger. Jaxon Terrell struck out 10, allowing three runs on 10 hits in seven innings in the series-clinching 7-3 win over Sanger in the region quarterfinal.

Decatur finished the year 27-12.

BEST SURPRISE: DECATUR BOYS SOCCER

The Decatur Eagles entered the season looking for the program’s first postseason victory.

The Eagles made history in dominating fashion, blasting Mineral Wells 4-0 to claim the bi-district crown.

Decatur wasn’t finished. The following week, the Eagles took down Pampa at home 5-0 to win the area title.

Decatur dropped the region quarterfinal to San Elizario to end its playoff run.

CHANGES ON THE WAY

After three years with a mostly stable staff of coaches, Fuller was busy this summer hiring coaches for a number of jobs.

Decatur hired Argyle’s Clark Oberle to take over the volleyball program after Claire Gay left for Aledo. Oberle led Argyle to the 2015 state title a year after playing Decatur for the 4A crown.

Longtime girls basketball coach Billy Garner retired after leading the Lady Eagles to 236 wins over 12 seasons. His teams made the postseason 10 times and won five league titles. His assistant Lindsay Griffin is taking over the job.

The boys soccer team will have a new coach after Wes Campbell left coaching to become a full-time fishing guide. Chris Benjamin is filling the role.

After three seasons with Decatur and leading the Eagles to the region final, Brian Tickell is leaving the baseball program. Fuller has not hired his replacement.

Boys track coach Cade Wartes took a job in Canyon. Landon Wren will now lead the program.

Decatur hired Amy Chabek as the swim coach with Brooklyn Huffman changing roles at Fit-N-Wise.

Rallying The Troops

RALLYING THE TROOPS – Decatur coach Drew Coffman spurs on his team. The Eagles reached the region quarterfinals, falling to defending state champion Dallas Lincoln in overtime. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

DECATUR AT A GLANCE

Sport … 2015-16 record … 2016-17 … Postseason

FOOTBALL … 9-2 … 7-5 … Area round

VOLLEYBALL … 26-21 … 27-21 … Region quarterfinal

CROSS COUNTRY … Girls 6th in 4A

BOYS BASKETBALL … 23-10 … 27-8 … Region quarterfinal

GIRLS BASKETBALL … 20-12 … 17-14 … Bi-district

BOYS SOCCER … Region quarterfinal

GIRLS SOCCER … Bi-district

BASEBALL … 23-11-1 … 27-12 … Region final

SOFTBALL … Missed playoffs

TRACK … Girls 9-4A champs

COACHING CHANGES

Sport … Previous coach … New coach

VOLLEYBALL … Claire Gay … Clark Oberle

GIRLS BASKETBALL … Billy Garner … Lindsay Griffin

BASEBALL … Brian Tickell … Open

BOYS TRACK … Cade Wartes … Landon Wren

BOYS SOCCER … Wes Campbell … Chris Benjamin

SWIM … Brooklyn Huffman … Amy Chabek

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