For Stephenville (7-2, 6-0), it’s been a season of excitement with the Yellow Jackets rebounding from an 0-2 start with seven straight wins to secure at least a share of a district title.
For Crowley (3-6, 2-4), it’s been a season stocked full of heartbreaking losses, none more painful than a 24-21 loss to Arlington Seguin on a last-minute field goal and a 21-14 defeat at the hands of Mansfield Timberview. Those losses, paired with falling to Mansfield Legacy 28-13 last week and Everman 68-46, means Crowley is already out of the playoff race.
That, however, is exactly what has Stephenville head coach Joseph Gillespie concerned the most as his team looks to claim the 8-4A championship outright when the teams tangle at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Eagle Stadium in Crowley.
“They’re out of the playoff race, and some people may look at that and say, ‘Well they aren’t going to come out fired up,’ but I look at it and say they may come out and take all the chances in the world and try every trick in the book,’” Gillespie said. “It will certainly be a good test for us.”
The Eagles have talent Gillespie says is very comparable to Seguin, Legacy and Timberview. He even says their talent compares in some ways to Everman.
“It’s a typical Crowley football team with a lot of speed and talent,” Gillespie said. “And they’re always well coached. Coach (Brad) McCone and his staff do a great job.”
Gillespie says winning the district title outright is the second item on his team’s list of goals. The first - earning a playoff spot - has already been checked off.
“Winning the district title would complete the first phase of our mission,” Gillespie said. “Our goals started with making sure we get back to the playoffs and we’ve done that. Now we want to win the district championship and keep the momentum rolling into the playoffs.”
Regardless of the outcome of Friday’s contest, Stephenville, which is guaranteed the No. 1 8-4A seed in the Division II bracket of the 4A playoffs due to its win over Everman, will face Fort Worth Polytechnic in a bi-district playoff at 7 p.m. Thursday in Burleson.
“We only have two games and a few practices left that are guaranteed,” Gillespie said. “We want to take advantage of every moment of that time and that starts with this game.”