When No. 1 Stephenville (7-0, 4-0) travels to face Mineral Wells (1-6, 0-4) tonight, senior quarterback Kody Spano will be on the sideline in street clothes while Trey Taylor takes the game's first snaps for the Yellow Jackets.
Kickoff in Mineral Wells is set for 7:30 p.m.
Spano injured his throwing shoulder in the first quarter of a 41-7 win over Cleburne last week. He played the second period without attempting a pass. Taylor took over at quarterback in the second half, which was when he ran for the majority of his 127 yards.
“We're going to start Trey,” Stephenville Head Coach Chad Morris said. “He did a good job last week, so he'll start and we'll go from there.”
Brad Picha, who has served as the junior varsity quarterback this season, has been called up to the varsity.
“Brad's going to play. He's going to play plenty,” Morris confirmed. “But we're going to start with Trey to hopefully take some of the pressure off Brad's shoulders.”
Morris is optimistic that Spano's absence from the field will be a short one.
“We expect him back next week,” said Morris. “Of course, he didn't workout out at all this week, but our plans are to have him back for Crowley.”
While the Jackets have steamrolled most foes on their way to a 7-0 start and the No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press Class 4A poll, Mineral Wells has just been steamrolled.
Since blitzing Springtown in the season opener, the Rams have lost six straight and have been outscored 185-61.
“They've struggled this year,” Morris said. “Of course they've had some injuries.”
Morris doesn't expect the Jackets to overlook the Rams, especially with Spano's absence and with the successful David Bourquist at the helm of the Mineral Wells football program.
“He's won everywhere he's been, and he won at Mineral Wells a couple years ago,” said Morris. “They've had a tough couple of years with injuries, but they have nothing to lose and they can try to play the role of spoiler.”
Spoiling may be the plan for Mineral Wells, but Stephenville is looking to keep pace in the district championship race. In addition to the Jackets, Everman and Crowley are both undefeated in 8-4A. They battle tonight, with the winner assured of at least a tie for first in next week's standings.
Stephenville hosts Crowley next week and visits Everman in the regular season finale Nov. 9.
Brad Keith is the sports editor at the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124, ext. 241, or by e-mail at email@example.com.