Head football coach Greg Winder knew that his 2018 Stephenville Yellow Jackets had the potential to have an effective defense, but probably could not have predicted the group would have so much scoring potential.
The Jackets forced five turnovers and scored twice on defense in a 48-8 domination of previously unbeaten Georgetown Friday night at Memorial Stadium in Stephenville to close out their non-district football schedule. Georgetown, a Class 5A school, had won its first three games but dropped to 3-1 with the loss.
Stephenville (3-2) entered the game ranked as the No. 9 Class 4A in the state in the Associated Press weekly poll, and continued its streak of scoring at least one defensive touchdown in each game this season.
The Jackets erupted for 22 points in the second quarter for a 25-8 halftime lead on the way to improving to 3-2 on the season.
Linebacker Blu Caylor returned an interception 60 yards for a TD and defensive back Nathan Diedrich recovered a Georgetown fumble in the end zone for another SHS score.
Through the first five games, the SHS defense has intercepted 10 passes and recovered five fumbles. The Jackets also have averaged almost four quarterback sacks per outing (19.5).
Junior linebacker Quentin Walker leads the team in sacks, with five. Gage Graham leads in interceptions, with three, and Cody Storrs has two.
“We knew we had the possibility of having a great defense and so far, so good. They’re fun to watch,” SHS head coach Greg Winder said of the unit, which is guided by defensive coordinator Cody Moore. “They’ll come out and strike you. They want to get those turnovers.”
Caylor is the team leader in total tackles, with 61. Graham and Quentin Walker are next, with 46 and 45, respectively. Next are Chase Carrillo, with 42, and Victor Moreno, with 41.
Jonathan Gutierrez leads the Jackets in tackles for a loss overall, with 11. He recovered a fumble in the Georgetown game for the Jackets’ fifth turnover Friday.
Diedrich, a senior who also intercepted a pass Friday, said “We played fast and physical tonight. We took care of business. It was a great win, especially going into district.”
On offense, SHS quarterback Kade Renfro threw TD passes to running back Krece Nowak (75 yards), tight end Zane Walker (66 yards) and wide receiver Gavin Rountree (15 yards).
“It was a great team effort,” Walker said, noting that the offensive line didn’t allow any quarterback sacks.
Running back Kason Phillips ran for another TD (3 yards), and Carrillo kicked two field goals (19, 25 yards).
“The offensive line gave Renfro the time to throw the ball, and the running game was there,” Winder said.
Walker said the Yellow Jackets’ three wins over Class 5A schools, along with close losses to top-10 Class 4A Division I teams Argyle and Midlothian Heritage, helps the players in “knowing we can play with the big dogs,” and also signals “people to look out for us in the playoffs.”
Nowak led SHS in rushing with 67 yards on 16 carries, and added 76 yards with five pass receptions. Zane Walker caught three passes for 71 yards.
After SHS took a 3-0 lead in the opening quarter, Georgetown grabbed an 8-3 lead with a 7-yard TD pass and a two-point conversion run at the 11:48 mark in the second quarter.
Stephenville regained the lead for good at the 10:13 mark in the second quarter on Renfro’s 75-yard scoring pass to Nowak.
The Jackets expanded that 10-8 lead to 18-8 with Rountree’s 15-yard TD reception. When the extra point snap was bobbled, Renfro threw to Walker in the end zone for a two-point conversion and an 18-8 edge with 2:16 left in the half.
SHS took a 25-8 halftime lead when Caylor snagged his intercepted and galloped 60 yards to the end zone at the 1:32 mark in the second quarter.
Less than two minutes after Diedrich’s interception gave the ball to SHS at the 50-yard line, Zane Walker caught a Renfro pass and turned it into a 66-yard TD as SHS went on top 32-8 with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
Trace Morrison’s 65-yard punt for SHS helped set the stage for the next score. The Eagles found themselves at their own 5-yard line and snapped the ball but it bounced back into their end zone where Diedrich pounced on it. That TD increased Stephenville’s lead to 39-8.
The Jackets drove after Storrs’ interception and Phillips found the end zone on a 3-yard TD run that made it 45-8 with 10:35 to go in the game after the extra point kick attempt failed when it hit the upright and did not go through.
Carrillo added a 25-yard field goal with 3:59 left in the game to complete the scoring.
OTHER STAT LEADERS
In three games at quarterback, Renfro has passed for 495 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions. He has completed 65 percent (36 of 65).
Gavin Rountree has scored a team-high six touchdowns while catching 14 passes for 234 yards. Kyle Lindsey and Nowak are tied for the team lead in pass receptions, with 18 each. Nowak leads SHS in reception yards, with 295, and Lindsey is second with 277.
Nowak is the team’s top rusher with 453 yards on 82 carries, with two TDs.
Three-year-old Lauren (LoLo) Elise Loredo, this year's SHS Heart of Gold recipient, was on the field with her family for the pre-game coin toss.
The Jackets will be idle this week, but will begin District 5-4A play at home in Memorial Stadium on Oct. 12 against China Spring (7 p.m.) in the SHS Hall of Fame game.
China Spring is 3-2, coming off a 37-16 win Friday over Liberty Christian of Argyle for the Cougars’ second win in a row. The Cougars were picked as the third-best team in District 5-4A Division I in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine’s preseason rankings behind Stephenville and Waco La Vega.
This week while the Yellow Jackets are practicing and catching up on their rest, the Cougars will be on the road Friday taking on 1-4 Houston St. Thomas Catholic High School.