After a wild weather-shortened loss to Decatur last week, Stephenville is still searching for their first win of the season and there wouldn’t be a better time to seize that first win than this Friday’s homecoming game against Graham.
The Yellow Jackets (0-4) have struggled this season to piece together a full four-quarter performance. Last week against Decatur, the Eagles had revenge on their minds from their 2015 playoff exit, courtesy of Stephenville.
“We had some mental lapses last week, especially in the secondary,” said Stephenville head coach Greg Winder. “We knew we couldn’t let them get in to space and we didn’t pressure the quarterback and that allowed him to find his receivers. The good thing is that a lot of our mistakes are fixable.”
Graham (2-2) enters the game with victories over Burkburnett and Wichita Falls Hirschi with a combined score of 96-19.
A big provider of those points is the Steers’ running game, which Winder and his coaching staff are dedicated to stopping.
“We’re going to have to stop the run on defense. They can throw it, but they like to run the ball and we’re going to have to prove that we can stop it,” he said. “Defensively they’re the same as in past years. They have some really good guys in their front seven and they have the ability to really play some defense. We’re going to have to go out and do what it is that we practiced during the week and if we do that then we’ll be fine.”
While the number in the Yellow Jackets’ win column hasn’t increased, two Stephenville underclassman have already made a name for themselves this season.
Leading the backfield has been running back Krece Nowak who has rushed for 100-plus yards in each game this season. The other is receiver Conner Schmutz who has tallied two 100-plus yard performances, including scoring three touchdowns against Decatur last week.
“Running the football hasn’t been a huge issue and Krece and the offensive line are doing a good job with that. Schmutz has added a bit of quickness outside and he has good hands,” Winder said. “We have to get people open this week in the passing game and that starts with establishing the run. Graham plays a lot of cover four and we’ll be looking to break that Friday.”
As the homecoming clash draws closer, Winder knows what it will take to get his team out of its current rut. A difficult non-district schedule aside, the team expects to compete week in and week out.
“Bottom line is that we’re going to have to execute and we’re going to have to make something good happen in the opening minutes,” he said. “If they score on the first play like last week then it’s here we go again. We need to get some momentum going and keep that moving throughout the game so that we can come away with a victory.”
Stephenville and Decatur are scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tarleton’s Memorial Stadium.