ARGYLE — The Stephenville Yellow Jackets are ready to move on to their second test of the football season, against Class 5A Division II Everman, coming off a huge matchup against one of the best Class 4A teams in the state in their season opener.
Coach Greg Winder’s Yellow Jackets will have their second of three away games to start the 2018 season this Friday at Everman (7:30 p.m.). The Bulldogs, playing for the first time in years without highly respected head coach Dale Keeling, lost their opener to rival Crowley, 14-7.
“They’re doing basically the same thing they’ve done for years,” Winder said of Everman, now led by the Bulldogs’ former defensive coordinator Dale Matlock. “They’re always fast and well-coached.
“What we see, their defense hasn’t changed at all. Defensively, they’re big up front.
“They have two good linebackers who run to the ball. Their secondary is fast, with good cover people.”
Everman, picked second in District 5-5A Division II behind perennial powerhouse Aledo (a state finalist in 2017), reached the bi-district round of the playoffs and finished last season with a 7-4 record.
Antonio Little is Everman’s quarterback, and has dangerous wide receiver Decorian Clark as one of his top targets. Clark had 719 yards in pass receptions last year and scored 11 times in 11 games.
“Offensively, the key is to stop the run. They prefer to run,” Winder said. “We can’t go to sleep. They can throw, too.”
Defensive standouts for the Bulldogs are James Brooks, who intercepted five passes last year, along with Courien Newton, both in the secondary, and end Makenzie Hollie and linebacker Tre Green.
Grayson Traweek, a sophomore wide receiver for SHS who has been sidelined with an injury since the Jackets’ second preseason scrimmage, had his knee tested and got good news. Winder said the MCL injury he sustained was a sprain, and he may be able to return to action in a couple more weeks.
The Jackets were outscored 45-35 Friday night at Argyle, which was No. 2 in the state in the 4A Associated Press preseason rankings.
The Yellow Jackets had taken on the Eagles last season in the third round of the playoffs and posted a tense 31-28 triumph, when Argyle was ranked No. 3 in the AP rankings and was unbeaten through the first 12 games.
The rematch was just as entertaining as the first time around for two of the states’ top-ranked Class 4A Division I squads.
Stephenville was fifth in the Associated Press preseason rankings.
SHS quarterback Cole Stanley threw for 304 yards and connected for three touchdown passes, including two to Gavin Rountree.
Rountree’s first scoring catch was from 62 yards out, putting the Jackets on the scoreboard for the first time and making it a 14-7 Argyle lead with 11:08 left in the second quarter
Kason Phillips scored on a 6-yard run with 7:35 remaining in the second quarter as SHS made it 14-14.
Rountree hauled in a 21-yard TD catch at the 2:45 mark in the fourth quarter.
Stanley’s other scoring pass was from 21 yards out to senior wide receiver Kyle Lindsey on a fourth-down play with 6:43 left in the game.
Sophomore defensive lineman Colton Accomozzo returned an Argyle fumble 20 yards for the Yellow Jackets' other score, at the 2:01 mark in the third quarter.
Senior SHS defensive back Gage Graham recovered another Argyle fumble with 2:46 left in the second quarter, halting an Eagle drive that had reached Stephenville’s 25-yard line.
“Argyle is a good team. I think on both sides of the ball, we competed to the max,” Lindsey said after the loss. “That was the best I’ve seen us play.”
Winder said the Arglye matchup was good for both teams.
“We competed well,” Winder added. “They are solid all the way around. I’m proud of our kids, the way they battled all night.
“I love this group of kids. (The effort) is going to pay off for us. Offensively we did some good things. The kids battled hard. They are an uptempo team and our defense did well.”
The teams combined to score 31 points in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles struck for an 80-yard touchdown pass on their second possession Friday on the way to a 14-0 lead. But the Jackets rallied to tie it at 14 at halftime were within a touchdown (28-21) going into the final period.
Argyle’s defense held Nowak and Phillips to a combined 87 yards on 26 carries, but SHS managed 436 yards in total offense.
Lindsey led the Jackets in receiving with 139 yards on seven catches, and Rountree picked up 101 yards on his two receptions.
In addition to the AP preseason rankings, the Eagles were the No. 1 Class 4A Division I team in the state in Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine, and the Jackets were No. 3.