For the first time in several seasons, Stephenville enters its only opponent scrimmage with something to prove at defensive end.
The Yellow Jackets lost All-State honoree Josh Emmons after the 2008 season, then graduated All-State T.R. Varnado and two-time first-team all-district honoree Javier Perez after their 2009 campaign.
It’s no wonder defensive line coach Kreg Kimple is approaching tonight’s 7 p.m. scrimmage against Granbury with a little more fire than the last two years when the Jackets scrimmaged Weatherford.
“Without a doubt I’m looking forward to seeing how we do in the scrimmage,” Kimple said. “After 18 practices we know what we can do against each other, now we’re ready to see how we perform against somebody else.”
Kimple says Alex Chavez and Stephen Harrell, both seniors, have separated themselves from the rest of the pack and are slated to be the starters.
“They have come a long way since the start of spring ball,” Kimple said. “We still have a long way to go, but I’ve seen a lot of improvement in both of them.”
Chavez and Harrell aren’t players you’ll see dancing or chanting before the game, and they aren’t the type who will celebrate after every big play.
“Alex is a real quiet kid. Stephen isn’t as quiet as Alex, but neither one of them are real rah-rah guys,” Kimple said. “They’re both pretty level-headed and just go about their business.”
Kimple says the presence of junior nose guard Russell Cole, a returning starter, has helped immensely as the ends have continued their progress.
“No doubt Russell is the rock on the defensive line,” Kimple said. “He had a good spring and has been good in two-a-days. It’s easy to get excited about a kid like Russell. We’re expecting big things from him the next two years.”
The presence of four experienced linebackers, specifically inside backers Padyn Giebler and Jared Slemmons, will also help.
“They make up for a lot of our mistakes,” Kimple said. “(Giebler) and Slemmons are two of the best linebackers in the state of Texas in my mind. It’s so comforting to have them back there. It makes a huge difference.”
Head coach Joseph Gillespie feels the ends might surprise some people this season.
“We’re not as big as we have been at end, but we are quicker than we have been,” Gillespie said. “I think people will learn that these kids can play.”