By BRAD KEITH
Stephenville (9-2) ran “Myles” past Fort Worth Polytechnic in a 62-13 blowout to open Class 4A Division II playoff action at Burleson Stadium Thursday night.
The win, the Yellow Jackets’ ninth straight, sets up a much anticipated area championship showdown with Aledo that will be played at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the magnificent new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Gotta win the first to win ‘em all
Coaches are always full of can-copy quotes, the ones that are used over and over to keep them from trying to get creative and then regretting what they told the media later.
After winning season openers, coaches are often heard saying, “You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first one.”
Nobody wins the first one in the playoffs like Stephenville. The Yellow Jackets improved to 19-1 in first-round playoff games over the past 21 years, including three straight bi-district victories at Burleson Stadium.
Bring on the Bearcats
While much will surely be made of getting to play at Cowboys Stadium - widely regarded as the best sports facility in the world - don’t lose focus. Friday isn’t about touring Jerry Jones’ palace, it’s about an area championship, one that would mean more than most won in the past because the game is against Aledo (10-1), a rival of Stephenville’s who has beat the Jackets’ in back-to-back meetings including 20-16 in the season opener on Aug. 28.
“Myles” past the rest
First he topped Cody Cardwell’s 11-year old school record of 27 touchdowns in the season - then he added No. 28, 29, 30 and 31 on his way to setting a new single-game scoring mark at Stephenville with seven touchdowns. He scored on runs of 2, 2, 2, 4, 5, 39 and 53 yards.
Oh yeah, he also ran for 321 yards Thursday, the most ever by a Yellow Jacket.
To put it simply, James Myles, who now has 1,671 rushing yards on the year and has also topped the 2,000-plateau in all-purpose yards, is enjoying the greatest individual rushing season in school history.
Quick to give credit
Myles will be the first to tell you all he has to do is run fast and not drop the ball. He always credits the offensive line with doing the rest.
“I love my offensive line,” he tilted his head back and shouted after running for six TDs two weeks ago against Arlington Seguin. “I do. I love ‘em.”
And he should.
The starting linemates up front are D.J. Vanden Berge at center, Dylan Frazier and Ben Dammers at guard and Austin Melvin and Kody Travis at tackle. Like all the other starters on the Stephenville offense, they made the first start of their careers in this season’s opener.
Oh so close
The defense came close to a pair of milestones Thursday night - a third shutout in a single season and a seventh game with either a defensive or special teams score.
Poly scored two touchdowns, but one came on a short field after Stephenville’s lone turnover, and the other came on a 79-yard sprint by speedy running back Duran Hollis. If you take away the 79-yard run, Poly’s only big play of the night, the Parrots had only 124 total yards. Even with the two touchdown plays counting as first downs, Poly moved the sticks only nine times.
The defense almost scored when sophomore Holton Westbrook intercepted a pass and made a highlight-reel-worthy return of 68 yards. He was eventually forced out of bounds with no time remaining on the first half clock.
Aiavion Edwards blocked an extra point kick by Poly, marking the second straight game in which the Yellow Jackets have blocked a kick. T.R. Varnado blocked a punt against Crowley.
The Jackets also had positive returns on all three Poly kickoffs, giving their offense good field position.