First of all, as fans of the sport, can we all sit back and applaud the phenomenal Aledo football team we saw Friday night?
Second of all, can we not hit the panic button in Stephenville? Two games into a season is way too early to judge a Joe Gillespie-coached Yellow Jacket team.
If you've followed Jacket football since 2008, you should be used to this by now. It's Stephenville's third 1-1 start under Gillespie, and two years they were 0-2. Yet four of his five teams have reached at least the state quarterfinals, and the one that didn't played a de facto state championship in the area round and lost in overtime.
Don't you recall Gillespie's first year? The loss to Aledo when Stephenville went for it on fourth down instead of punting and gave the Bearcats a short field to drive for the game-winning score? Then Denton Guyer pulled the huge upset of a name-brand program it was waiting for to kickstart its impressive run of success?
A week later the Jackets were being drilled at halftime in Brownwood. Then they came back, in the game that to me sums up the head coaching career of Gillespie at Stephenville through five plus seasons. You can pinch a Jacket by the stinger, but Gillespie's boys will come and get you by the swarm.
Stephenville came back that night in Brownwood - the Jackets won on a German Chavarria field goal at the buzzer if I recall - and have come back from so many adverse situations since.
So they got walloped by the best team in 4A Friday night. Who cares? It's week one. And yes, I do believe they played the best team, and when the Associated Press polls come out Monday, the 4A list will back me up with Aledo at No. 1. This week's top-ranked club, Cedar Park, suffered a setback at talented 5A Abilene Cooper Friday night.
Back to the point at hand.
Do you think a loss to that Aledo team - which may be better than the Jonathan Gray era Bearcats - will define Stephenville's season? If you believe that, then you haven't been watching Gillespie coach for long. And I have a washing machine that doubles as a lawn mower I'd like to sell you.
Stephenville is going to be fine. I don't know much about Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard, but the Jackets will bounce back and be much better in the Lone Star High School Football Classic next week than they were Friday in Aledo. And they'll be better the week after against Waco La Vega, and the week after that when they take on Amarillo.
Stephenville went 5-5 in 2010, and four weeks later was leading Aledo 10-6 entering the fourth quarter of a quarterfinal game. You're going to give up on the Jackets after two weeks?
The Jackets were 0-2 in 2008. Later in the year they suffered their worst loss under Gillespie - 56-3 against Everman. Yet, there they were, in the quarterfinals with a 17-0 lead on those same Bulldogs.
And surely everyone remembers the ugly opener against Prepa Tec Monterrey (Mex.) last year. You know, that 27-17 loss that had everyone dropping Stephenville from No. 1 only to watch the Jackets torch Aledo a week later to kick start a 14-game win streak that included the school's fifth state title and just ended Friday.
Gillespie's only team that did not go at least four rounds deep in the state playoffs was in 2009. The brackets worked against Stephenville that year, landing the Jackets against Aledo in the area round at Cowboys Stadium. Aledo won a back-and-forth game in overtime, and won every other playoff game by double digits on its way to the first of three straight state titles.
Munch on these numbers: In its first five seasons under Gillespie, Stephenville was 4-6 in weeks zero and one, but were 32-8 the remainder of those regular seasons and 15-4 in playoff games those years. Combined, Gillespie, over his first five years at the helm, was 47-12 when it wasn't one of the first two games of the season.
Besides history, just take common sense into account. Did you really think Stephenville was going to be as good in its first two games without Tyler Jones, Brice Gunter, Alex Sanchez, Witt Westbrook, Bryan Manley, Chase Varnado and others as they were in their last few games with them? Come on, Rome wasn't built in a day, and a state championship football team can't be rebuilt overnight.
Don't write off Stephenville. Don't even lift the cover off the panic button, because the season has just begun. As it progresses, you'd best keep one thing in mind:
The Yellow Jackets don't always start strong under Gillespie, but for the last five years, they've always finished that way.