Joseph Gillespie has served as an assistant coach for two of Stephenville’s state championship teams. He’s also been to the semifinals as an assistant and as far as the quarterfinals in his first two years as a head coach.

One thing Gillespie has learned is patience with the progress of his team.

“You don’t have to be in playoff form in August,” Gillespie said after Saturday’s annual Blue vs. Gold intrasquad scrimmage.

That said, the head coach admitted his team is farther along than it was at this point last year, when the Yellow Jackets went on to go 9-3 and capture a district championship before falling in the area round of the playoffs.

“We are farther along, naturally, because we have a lot of kids back who gained some valuable experience last year,” he said. “We’re ahead from the mental standpoint and from an execution standpoint.”

Still there is work to be done, Gillespie says.

“I remember where we were at the end of last year and we have to get back to that point, but it takes time to get there,” he added. “Time and a lot of hard work.”

Hard work was exactly what the coach says his team put in all last week.

“It was a tough week,” he said. “It was tough on the kids and on the coaches. It was tough enough when we weren’t in pads. We just added the pads (Friday) and you could tell we were kind of dead-legged (Saturday). You expect that after week one.”

Gillespie says he has been pleased so far with the team’s effort in the tough conditions.

“It’s been hot and it’s been tough, but the effort and the hustle have been there, just like it always is from our kids,” he said. “I think these kids understand that we have a good opportunity to do something special. That opportunity is right there in front of us and we have to keep working hard to take advantage of it.”

The Jackets were off Saturday night and today and return to the practice field at 6 a.m. Monday. They scrimmage Granbury Friday at Tarleton Memorial Stadium and visit Aledo in the season opener Aug. 27.

“We’re all going to get some much needed rest this weekend and be ready to go again Monday,” Gillespie said. “We have another long week ahead of us, and then the next week it’s for real.”