Stephenville High School's defensive unit has shown consistency and resilience — two of the keys to locking up a playoff berth before Friday night's District 3-4A, Div. I football showdown against Abilene Wylie.
The SHS defense overwhelmed Big Spring two weeks ago and posted its first shutout of the season, 71-0. Then the Yellow Jackets secured at least second place in district with a 49-20 win over Snyder last Friday. The Tigers scored their first touchdown on a trick play early and were limited to 6 points before intermission. Snyder managed to get its final TD with one second left in the game.
The Jackets have allowed more than three touchdowns only once — in a 30-14 non-district road loss to Graham.
In their seven wins going into the Wylie game, head coach Greg Winder’s Jackets have won by an average margin of 23.8 points.
Winder said that he thinks the defensive unit, led by defensive coordinator Cody Moore, is improving every week.
“They’re understanding the scheme defensively, and when they get to the ball, they get there with a purpose,” Winder said. “It’s a good group. They have a good bond. They have team spirit and they work together well.”
Senior defensive back Cole Pettit, who leads Stephenville’s defense in interceptions with four of the team’s eight, said the success goes beyond the scheme Moore added when he became defensive coordinator in the offseason coming off a 3-8 season.
“He really changed our mentality,” Pettit said. “This year we had an attitude we brought with it. We wanted to make a statement, that we were are not the same defense we were last year.
“Our defense this year wanted to embarrass the other team (in shutting down the offense). We really took that to heart, every game.”
Moore said the team has the right approach, continuing to bring enthusiasm into the mix — even in studying game video and in other good habits off the field.
“The thing I am most proud of is the kids have responded in their own way,” Moore said. “They get themselves going, and that’s a big thing.
“The other thing I’m proud about is the kids are taking it personal when it comes to being physical. They understand that the more physical team usually wins the games.”
The players on defense have also shown an ability to learn from the mistakes they make, Moore noted.
“They don’t make a lot of the same mistakes twice,” Moore said. “They usually learn from their mistakes, and they do a better job next time. The kids take pride in it. It means something to them.”
Pettit said Moore’s 4-3 scheme is fun because it allows the defensive players to “have more freedom to do what they want. I changed from safety to cornerback, and I’m more comfortable. I really gained a lot of freedom to play the way I know how to.”
Linebacker Blu Caylor continues to show up all over the field, and leads the defense in tackles with 89, averaging just under 10 stops per game.
Next in overall tackles among the starters on defense are cornerback Gage Graham with 74, linebacker Zane Walker with 67, safety Chase Carrillo with 61, end Pacen Parker with 47, tackle Jonathan Gutierrez with 45, linebacker Kasee Bouchey with 41, safety Cody Storrs with 34, tackle Silverio Vazquez with 26, Pettit with 25, end Dylan Garber with 20. Reserve lineman Cesar Macias, who is currently out with an injury, has posted 36 tackles.
Parker leads the Jackets in quarterback sacks, with six. Walker is second, with four.
Defensive back Cody Storrs is next after Pettit in interceptions, with two.
Stephenville will have its bi-district playoff game this week against Sanger.