Stephenville head football coach Greg Winder has previously noted that sophomore running back Krece Nowak gives everything he has on the field. Technically that amounts to only about 140 pounds, but who’s counting with a player as productive as Nowak?

Nowak’s rushing yardage has been one of the highlights so far for the Yellow Jackets, with at least 100 yards in each of the team’s five games. He leads the squad in rushing with 809 yards through five games. He is also the team’s primary kick returner.

Nowak was on the freshman squad last season and admitted he was “a little surprised” at skipping the junior varsity level when he was promoted to the varsity. But Nowak does not sound like someone who will become complacent.

“I knew I had to work hard to maintain that spot so it wouldn’t get taken,” said Nowak, who said it’s important for him to not let up even in practice.

Coaches originally thought they would be moving senior Cameron Frazier from H-back (slot receiver) to running back this season. But the coaches instead decided to install Frazier as the starting tight end.

That left an open door, and Nowak slipped right through it — much in the way he slips through would-be tacklers.

Nowak hard work doesn’t happen only on the football field. He puts in similar effort in the weight room, and even in the classroom — where he’s a straight-A student.

“The thing about him is that he’s a great young man, and he’s such a great competitor,” Winder said of Nowak. “He’s a kid you don’t have to worry about showing up and doing what he’s supposed to do.”

Winder noted that the 5-8 Nowak has “great feet” and quickness, along with good speed. Last spring in track, not only was he on two relay teams and competed in triple jump, but also qualified for regional in the long jump.

“The bottom line is, he’s a fierce competitor. He thinks he’s 6-4, 230,” Winder joked. “That size doesn’t bother him one bit. He understands the plays and where to hit the hole to make something happen.”

Nowak is one of 10 sophomores among the 38 varsity players on the Stephenville squad.

“We have a really good class,” Nowak said of the talented group of sophomores.

He said that the younger players remain aware of the Yellow Jackets’ winning tradition and want to match that high standard, but don’t necessarily talk about it.

“We mainly show it by working and getting in the weight room,” Nowak said. “We’re wanting to get another state championship.”

Nowak arrived in Stephenville in time for his 8th grade year, when his family moved from Strawn.

A winning football tradition was also firmly in place at Strawn — although at the six-man level. Striving for that level of excellence in Stephenville has similarities — even if the six-man game itself is a different kind of animal.

“In six-man, you have to be in good shape. There’s a lot more running,” Nowak, who also plays basketball and is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “In 11-man you have more responsibilities you have to take care of. It’s pretty similar. Everyone wants to win.”

Whenever that championship level of play returns for the rebuilding Yellow Jackets, Nowak’s desire to reach that goal is off the charts.

“It would mean everything — everything we’ve been working for,” he said. “It’s positive — the attitude on the field and in the weight room, and looking at film in the mornings. Everyone’s on time, no one’s late. I enjoy (football) a lot. I’m thankful I get to play it.