No. 2 Abilene Wylie may not possess the same explosiveness as Stephenville offensively, but what the Bulldogs do bring to the table is as effective and balanced a unit as the Yellow Jacket defense has seen all year.
The unbeaten Bulldogs are averaging 407.3 yards and 40.5 points per game and doing it both ways with 227.5 rushing yards and 179.8 passing yards.
Tailback Garrett Martin is the team's biggest standout with 1,366 rushing yards and a team-leading 30 receptions. He's scored 20 touchdowns on the year - 18 of them on the ground - and has done it while missing all of two district games and part of a third.
"He's a coach's kid with great understanding of the game," Stephenville head coach Joe Gillespie said of Martin, the son of Wylie assistant coach Clay Martin. "He's a tough kid who is hard to bring down; just an unbelievable competitor."
Hayden Lewis has helped Martin on the ground with 408 yards on 56 carries, an average of 7.3 per trip. Hunter Calhoun averages 7.6 yards, gaining 341 yards on 45 attempts.
Taylor Grant adds the aerial attack with his 70 percent passing mark. He's thrown for 2,149 yards and 30 touchdowns with only four interceptions and has hit six different receivers with at least 10 passes. Shante Brown has 20 catches for 357 yards, Patrick Walker 21 for 267 and Paul Goodrich 13 for 257. Martin has turned his 30 catches into 279 yards.
"They are a lot like we were in terms of having a number of weapons," Gillespie said. "You look down their schedule, and they've been putting up big numbers all year."
That includes a couple eye-opening wins early in the season - 34-13 over Argyle and 31-7 over Graham. Those were two of just five times the Bulldogs have been held to less than 40 points; they've scored less than 30 just once.
"They're as multiple as any team we've seen; as multiple as Glen Rose," said Gillespie. "But at the same time, they're as balanced as Aledo."
Trying to stop Wylie will be a Jacket defense that has surrendered 20.4 points and 303 yards per game. Those numbers are slightly deceiving with the last four opponents - Venus and Hillsboro in the regular season and Burnet and Kennedale in the playoffs - posting the majority of their offensive numbers long after the outcomes were determined.
The Jackets are led defensively by defensive ends Jonah Noah and Chase Varnado, who each have 10 sacks.
"We have to get pressure on their quarterback," said Gillespie. "We can't let him sit back there and survey the field very long. That's something we've done a good job of this year, and we need to do it again Friday."
Varnado and Noah have 99 and 86 tackles, respectively. Varnado has 35 tackles for loss and Noah has 26. Kobe Beavers leads the linebackers with 73 stops, and safety Mookie Carlile and cornerback Tyler Pettit lead the secondary with 71 and 64. Carlile also has a pair of interceptions and has broken up eight passes, while Varnado has batted or tipped eight balls from up front.
"Our offense gets a lot of attention because of the numbers they've been putting up, and so does Abilene Wylie's," said Gillespie. "But I'm telling you, both defenses are pretty good, too."
The Jackets will get Sam Macklin back from a knee injury. He was cleared Monday, Gillespie said.
"That's huge. I don't know what kind of football shape he's in to start the week, but he definitely gives us more depth at linebacker, and that's something we really need right now."
As daunting as facing Wylie can be, Gillespie says he would rather face what Wylie does than the wing-T attack of Kennedale.
"Wylie is the better football team, but I'd rather go up against this type of offense than what Kennedale does, because it just fits the way we're built defensively more," Gillespie said. "There's going to be good match-ups all over the field, and both teams are going to be looking to expose the advantages they believe they have over the other.
"You can't make many mistakes defensively in this game," Gillespie added. "Our offense can certainly take advantage of mistakes in a hurry, and I'm telling you, Wylie's can, too."