It’s fitting that Stephenville and Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard are meeting in a classic game. Both teams are facing the classic rebound week, after all.
Stephenville (1-1), ranked sixth in the Associated Press 3A poll, was ranked second before running into newly minted 4A No. 1 Aledo and falling 56-14 last week. Dillard (0-1), a Florida 4A playoff team a year ago, is looking to rebound from a 33-6 loss to Plantation (Fla.) in which the Panthers turned the ball over seven times.
Both will be looking to rebound in the Lone Star Sports High School Football Classic at John Kincaide Stadium in Dallas. Kickoff Saturday is set for 1 p.m.
“I think you’re going to see more of these out-of-state and even out-of-country matchups,” said Stephenville head coach Joe Gillespie, whose club defeated Beaumont Ozen 31-6 in the same event last year. “As high school football continues to grow, people want more and more to see how teams from different states and different areas of the country fare against each other.”
Texas teams have typically fared very well in out of state matchups, even though 5A Euless Trinity was upset 27-23 by Tulsa Jenks last week.
“We believe Texas has the best high school football in the country, in the world,” Gillespie said. “We want to go out and represent not only ourselves, our school and Stephenville football, but we want to represent Texas football, too.”
Coming to represent Florida football is a Dillard team that lost four fumbles and three picks in its season opener, but Gillespie warns that could have had a lot to do with its opponent.
“When you’re scouting teams, you have to keep an eye on their opponent, too. You have to realize some of the things the team you are scouting is doing might just be because of who they’re playing, what those teams are running offensively and defensively, and of course what the score and situation is,” Gillespie said. “We watched them on film against Plantation, and I thought Plantation had some cats that could really play.”
Plantation backed up Gillespie’s thoughts by routing another Florida foe last week.
Dillard stayed in a spread for more than 90 percent of its snaps against Plantation, and passed the ball about 85 percent of the time, Gillespie says.
“They were passing the ball right away, but I don’t know if they would have thrown it as much as they did if they weren’t trying to come from behind,” Gillespie said. “It was their first game. Were they just trying something different and now they realize they better get back to who they are? I don’t know, so in a sense, we have to be ready for anything.”
Gillespie said coaches also broke down YouTube highlights of Dillard’s three spring games as part of Florida’s Spring Jamboree allowing teams to play up to three games each spring. Through the Plantation and Jamboree films, he says his staff has identified several players to watch.
“They use two quarterbacks. (Lee Martin) is more of a pocket passer and (Jason Collins) is still a pocket guy but scrambles around more trying to keep plays alive,” Gillespie said. “(Alfredrick Marshall) seems to be their favorite receiver but (Dennis Turner and Jordan Merrell) also appear to have great speed and good height on the outside.
“They use two running backs and they’re both good,” he added. “(Eddie Roberts IV) is probably the better of the two. He’s more balanced, has more power. (Christian Bouie) is a scat back, and I mean he is as scatty as it gets. He’s quick and slippery, so we have to do a good job of tackling or he can get away in a hurry.”
Dillard ran a 4-3 defense against Plantation and in its spring games.
“They have a couple thoroughbreds over there on defense, especially at defensive end,” Gillespie said. “They have good defensive backs, and their linebackers run to the ball hard and fast.”
Stephenville may only be 5-7 in its first two games of a season in Gillespie’s six years at the helm, but the Jackets are 4-1 in game three.
“The first couple games, you’re figuring a lot of things out, learning a lot about your football team,” Gillespie said. “I’m not saying we aren’t still learning about us, but this is usually about the time we get into a flow of sorts and start putting it together.”
It’s also the week his Jackets have proven their ability to rebound, something both teams hope to do in classic fashion.