GRANBURY — Stephenville’s 54-31 Class 4A Division I win Friday over Fort Worth Dunbar was merely a lopsided first-round playoff game, but the Yellow Jackets' second-round matchup offers fans an interesting high-profile contest against one of the winningest programs in Texas high school football history.
Coach Greg Winder’s Yellow Jackets (7-3), who reached the state semifinals in a 12-3 campaign in 2017, will take on the Celina Bobcats (7-4) in the area playoff round at 3 p.m. on Friday at the Brewer High School field in White Settlement.
Stephenville’s Blu Caylor had another big night against Dunbar at Pirate Stadium in Granbury, scoring touchdowns on runs of 1, three and five yards, and he also recovered a fumble playing linebacker on defense.
Defensive back Chase Carrillo provided a defensive touchdown for the Jackets when he intercepted a Dunbar pass and returned it 75 yards for a TD. Carrillo scored a total of 18 points, adding field goals of 29 and 24 yards and making six of seven extra point kicks.
The other touchdowns for the Jackets were scored by running back Krece Nowak, receiver Kyle Lindsey and running back Kason Phillips.
Nowak ended up with 218 yards rushing on 22 carries on the night.
It was the largest point total of the season for the Jackets, whose previous high was 45 points in a 25-point district win over Brownwood on Oct. 26. They are on a three-game win streak, averaging 43 points per outing in this span and 35.2 pointer a game overall.
Celina has won eight state championships, tying the Bobcats with Southlake Carroll and Katy for the most in Texas 11-man football history. However, only Celina’s 2007 state football crown (in Class 3A) was above the Class 2A level.
Former Celina head coach G.A. Moore retired after the 2010 season as the winningest high school coach in the state’s history with 426 wins (including two state championship seasons with Pilot Point).
Phil Danaher of Corpus Christi Calallen surpassed Moore’s win total in 2016 to take over the top spot in Texas football victories.
Current Celina head coach Bill Elliott led the Bobcats to the regional semifinals last year with a 9-4 mark.
Stephenville, of course, has its own spectacular football playoff history in recent years. The Yellow Jackets won four of its five state titles in the 1990s, adding a fifth one in 2012.
The Bobcats (6-4) were the fourth-place team in District 7 with a 3-3 mark, behind 6-0 Argyle, 5-1 Paris and 4-2 Melissa. The Bobcats are in the playoffs for the 25th consecutive year.
Celina survived a close one in its bi-district playoff game Thursday, 35-34 over District 8 champion Wilmer-Hutchins. The Bobcats allowed 441 passing yards in that game, including four TD passes. Celina junior quarterback Hunter Watson threw for 198 yards.
Logan Point, a junior running back for Celina, rushed for more than 900 yards and scored 14 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Argyle defeated Celina 63-21 in the regular-season finale.
In Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine’s preseason predictions for Class 4A, Stephenville was picked as the No. 3 team behind only Argyle and defending state champion Carthage. Celina was ranked 12th.
NO DRESSING NEEDED
In the win over Dunbar, the Yellow Jackets shut out the Wildcats until the 11:02 mark in the third quarter. With the Jackets using their 34-0 halftime lead as an opportunity to get additional playing time for reserve players, the Wildcats were able to outscore SHS 31-20 the rest of the way.
“We came out in the first half and did what we needed to do,” Winder said. “In the second half, we tried to get other players out there.”
As for the second half, Winder said that the playoffs “aren’t about window dressing, they’re about getting to the next round. It doesn’t matter what the score is.”
Last season the Jackets won a district title and kept rolling all the way to the state semifinals before being eliminated by Kennedale.
“It’s another opportunity to make a big run like last year,” Nowak said. “The defense did a really good job. We had a lot of offensive turnovers. We can’t have those.”
The win for SHS ended a three-game win streak for Dunbar, which was the third-place team out of District 6. The Wildcats finished their season with a 5-5 record.
SHS senior defensive tackle Tyelir Brown, like Nowak, is also hopeful the team is on a roll like last year’s squad.
“It’s always a team effort,” Brown said. “We keep rolling, all playing together as a team. Once we roll, we don’t stop.”
As for taking on a school like Celina with it’s football history, Brown said, “We always respond to our opponents. Knowing my boys, it’s not going to phase us. If we do our job, nothing can stop us.”
The winner of the SHS-Celina contest will advance to the regional quarterfinals next week against either Argyle or China Spring.
The Yellow Jackets took on state-ranked Argyle in the first game of the season, Oct. 31, falling by a 45-35 margin on the road. Argyle was ranked No. 2 in the state at that time in the Associated Press poll.
China Spring, a member of District 5 along with Stephenville, was defeated by the Jackets 21-14 on Oct. 12. China Spring earned a playoff spot by finishing third in the five-team district with a 1-3 mark. Fourth-place Brownwood was eliminated in the first round with a 58-20 loss to Kennedale. District champion La Vega was a 61-0 first-round winner over Lake Worth.
The Jackets jumped to a 21-0 lead in the opening quarter Friday. Cody Storrs intercepted a Dunbar pass early, but SHS could not capitalize.
But the Jackets erupted for three touchdowns in a span of just over four minutes.
Nowak sprinted 69 yards for his TD and the Jackets led 7-0 with 6:30 to go in the quarter.
Junior quarterback Kade Renfro threw a pass to Lindsey for a 28-yard TD connection down the left side, and SHS led 14-0 with 4:40 to go in the quarter.
Phillips scored on a 5-yard TD run as the Jackets went up 21-0 at the 2:12 mark in the quarter.
After Caylor’s first TD run, the extra point kick failed when it hit the left upright, leaving the Jackets with a 27-0 lead with 5:06 to go in the second quarter.
Carrillo’s interception return came with just over a minute left in the first half, as the Jackets made it 34-0.
Two Dunbar players were ejected from the game with 54 seconds remaining in the half after a fight broke out on the field involving several players.
The first of Dunbar’s five TD passes came with 11:02 left in the third quarter and Stephenville led 47-13 going into the fourth quarter. But Caylor’s two other TD runs and Carrillo’s second field goal helped keep the Wildcats at bay the rest of the way.
Quarterback Kade Renfro threw for 250 yards, including the TD strike to Lindsey. He completed 11 of 19 with two interceptions. Renfro has 1,502 yards passing in nine games.
Nowak averaged nine yards per carry to surpass the 200-yard rushing mark, which pushed him over 1,000 yards for the season, to 1,180 yards in 10 games. Phillips added 62 yards rushing on eight attempts, with one TD.
Receiver Gavin Rountree was the leading receiver for SHS in the game with 99 yards on five receptions. Lindsey added two long pass receptions of 28 (TD) and 37 yards.
The Jackets turned the ball over three times, on two interceptions and one fumble.
Junior Cole Stanley, who began the season as the starting quarterback for SHS before breaking a foot bone, is out of his walking boot and continues his recovery.