Saturday’s playoff loss to Dallas Bishop Dunne marked the end of an illustrious high school career for Grant Gunnell, who concluded his time at St. Pius X as one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Texas history.
He departs the Panthers’ program with the state’s records for passing yards and touchdown passes in tow, according to records compiled by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Gunnell’s 16,020 yards in four seasons shattered the previous mark held by Booker’s Hunter Liles, who threw for 14,408 from 2011-14, and his 195 scoring tosses topped the previous record of 184 held by Refugio’s Travis Quintanilla.
Gunnell also set the state’s all-time scoring record. He was responsible for 1,340 points at St. Pius X, surpassing the previous mark of 1,232 amassed by former Aledo tailback Johnathan Gray from 2008-11.
“One day when I’m older and have kids, it’s going to be pretty cool to show them,” Gunnell said.
Gunnell, who plans to graduate in December and take his talent to the University of Arizona, garnered the most individual accolades among the Panthers. But he was not solely responsible for one of the most successful stretches in program history.
St. Pius X’s 42-0 loss to Bishop Dunne ended its hopes of winning a 13th football state title – a prize which was about the only one to elude one of the school’s most accomplished senior classes. The Panthers reached three TAPPS state semifinals in the last four seasons. Their run of three consecutive trips from 2015-17 marked just the second such instance in school history.
Add to that multiple district championships, and the group leaves quite a legacy.
“A 40-9 record the past four years has been special. This team is my family both on and off the field,” said senior Bruno Forestieri, an all-district and all-state linebacker who amassed 247 tackles in three varsity defensive seasons.
Gunnell, the team’s most prominent senior, always has been quick to credit his supporting cast. It includes offensive linemen Hunter Pachal and Barrett Brock, receivers Jalen Curry (who amassed more than 1,900 yards and caught 21 of Gunnell’s scoring throws during his two seasons) and Texas A&M commit Chase Lane (2,230 yards, 20 TDs in two seasons), and all-purpose threats Kaleb Ducros and Trenton Waggoner.
“It took an amazing amount of commitment from my parents, coaches and teammates to allow me to break so many records,” Gunnell said. “It takes a team to make all this happen, and they’re amazing.”
With their senior seasons now concluded, players such as Gunnell, Forestieri and others will set their sights on the future. Gunnell will soon head to Arizona to team up with coach Kevin Sumlin, while Lane is College Station-bound and Curry has his pick of 30 major-college offers.
“I believe my last four years has prepared me to compete for playing time this spring,” Gunnell said. “I approach every day the same with a competitive mindset and plan.”
Meanwhile, Forestieri is headed to West Point to play for Army. But he said he will never forget his time inside the SPX walls, or the brothers he shared the field with during his time there.
“I know sacrifice is what it takes to become successful,” he said. “SPX is a special place that has taught me how to win on and off the field.”