The high school football season has reached its mid-way point. Week six is the Stephenville Yellow Jackets' bye week, and for many, a 2-3 record for the hometown team likely would have been a disappointing surprise at this point.
However, one could also say the Yellow Jackets may have had the most difficult non-district schedules of all 4A schools in the state. The schedule, which was combined of Venice (FL), Gatesville, Everman, Lubbock Cooper and Alvarado, consisted of three schools in bigger classifications than Stephenville. The five teams' combined record thus far in 2015 is 15-8, with only Gatesville and Everman carrying multiple losses on the season.
Coach Winder acknowledged the team’s tough early season schedule, but also says it’s no excuse to not perform.
“It was a tough schedule that we had, but that’s no excuse,” he said. “I thought at times we executed well and at other times we executed poorly during non-district. I’m honestly not sure why that is. Some of the teams we played were very good, but you still have to go out there and execute. Sometimes you have to understand that things won’t always go your way, but you have to go find a way to compete and go out there and do that.”
With the team having the week off from competition the preparation has somewhat changed. Without having to game plan at the moment the focus has shifted to things that the coaching staff thinks the players need to improve.
“The bye week so far has been fine,” said Winder. “When you lose and then take this week off it seems like it lasts a month. We need these workouts so that we can go back to fundamentals. Blocking, throwing, catching are things we still need to work on and this gives us a chance to do that.”
While technically the first five games of the season won’t count towards anything, it gives players a chance to stand out and coaches a chance to see what players have to offer. According to Winder, a couple of names stood out to him and his staff during the non-district schedule.
“Jace McLeroy our tight end has done a good job with the opportunities he’s had,” Winder said. “Sam Cannon is also another one of those guys, but on the defensive side of the ball. Another receiver who we’ve been excited to watch is Malachi Taylor. We have some weapons, especially on offense. We just need to execute our plays better and try and get the ball in the hands of our playmakers.”
As far as what District 4-4A is looking like, well that’s simple. It includes several of the state’s traditional powerhouse programs and this season appears to be no different.
“Just looking at the scores and talking to a few of the coaches it looks like it’s going to go down to the wire,” Winder said about the district playoff race. “Wylie is always strong and Brownwood is probably playing the best football in the district at the moment, at least from what I’ve heard. They’re both very talented. Big Spring and Snyder are also playing well. I think it’s going to be an interested couple of months ahead of us.”
The district championship race begins next week on Friday, Oct. 9, when Stephenville hosts Brownwood.