The football legacy of Stephenville High School running back Krece Nowak will be evident in the record books for all to see for many years to come, but the stats won’t tell the story of his humility.
Nowak finished his three-year career (2016-2018) as a varsity starter with 4,261 yards — second on the school’s all-time rushing list.
Zac Hunter maintained the all-time school rushing mark at 4,334 yards (1997-1998).
In 2017, Nowak rushed for 1,793 yards with 18 touchdowns. That left him just 60 yards short of the school’s single-season mark of 1,853 yards that James Myles had in 2009. The stats are according to those compiled by former SHS player Cody Derrick (stephenvilleyellowjackets.com).
Nowak immediately insisted on giving credit to the offensive linemen and other teammates who provided him with blocking, opening the holes that he blasted through.
“Really, their names should be the ones on it,” Nowak said of the rushing mark when he was asked earlier this week. “Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten those yards. All that stuff goes to them.”
SHS head coach Greg Winder indicated that’s Nowak’s nature, to insist on giving the credit to his teammates.
“Krece is not going to slap himself on the back. He’s going to talk about the offensive line and the receivers that block for him,” Winder said. “He’s just happy to have the ball and make some touchdowns. That’s why he’s so special.”
In 11 games this season, Nowak led the Yellow Jackets for the third year in a row in rushing, gaining 1,180 yards on 178 carries for an average of 6.6 yards per attempt. He also led the team in rushing touchdowns, with seven.
He was also an effective and dependable receiver coming out of the backfield, finishing third on the team with 449 yards on 24 catches, and five TDs.
Nowak — at 5-9 and 175 pounds — found success in football using the gift of quickness combined with explosive breakaway speed.
Nowak would admit that great, sustained effort on the part of everyone involved was a key.
“The coaches say that if you want to win, you’re going to have to put the effort into it,” Nowak said.
He also noted that opposing teams had the Jackets on their radar coming into the 2018 season because SHS was coming off a 12-3 season in which they reached the Class 4A Division I semifinals.
“Before the season started, the coaches said we’ve got a target on our backs,” Nowak said.
“Krece had a great career. He’s a great young man, like all of our seniors,” Winder said after Nowak ended his high school career in the Yellow Jackets’ 31-21 loss to Celina in the Class 4A Division I area playoff round.
“He’s got good feet,” Winder said of Nowak. “He has great speed and he’s got great football speed.”
Winder compared Nowak’s running style to that of another all-time SHS running back, Kaegun Williams, in that aspect of “football speed” compared to track speed.
“Kaegun Williams is a prime example of it,” Winder said of football speed. “He wasn’t very fast when you put him on the track, but put him on the football field (and) nobody could catch him.”
During Williams’ varsity career (2013-2014), he racked up 3,214 yards (No. 3 on the Yellow Jackets’ all-time list behind Zac Hunter and Brad Mills). Williams scored 36 touchdowns, second all-time for SHS behind Mills.
The stats from the Celina game were nothing like those that elevated Nowak into elite status for Yellow Jackets football. He carried the ball eight times, but finished with a negative one yard rushing. Celina had made the decision to stop Nowak and force the Jackets to find other ways to win, crowding defenders close to the line of scrimmage.
“They were stacking the box up, so we had to throw the ball a little bit and try to get them off the ball,” Winder said.
Kason Phillips was second behind Nowak for the Jackets in rushing, with 219 yards and six TDs on 52 carries.
Senior wideout Kyle Lindsey led the team in receiving with 576 yards and 32 catches. He caught five TD passes. Gavin Rountree was second with 502 yards on 29 catches, and a team-leading nine TDs.
SHS quarterback Kade Renfro completed 91 of 153 passes on the season (59 percent), with 12 TDs and seven interceptions. Cole Stanley, who missed most of the season with an injury, also will return for his senior year in 2019. Stanley connected on 46 percent of his attempts, completing 43 of 92 passes for four scores and two interceptions.
Chase Carrillo led SHS in scoring with 68 points, including eight field goals, 38 extra point kicks and one touchdown.
Defensively, senior linebacker Blu Caylor led the Jackets in tackles with 152, including 91 solo stops. Second was senior defensive back Gage Graham with 119. Junior linebacker Quentin Walker was third with 100, followed by senior defensive back Chase Carrillo with 91.
Caylor led the squad in quarterback sacks, with 9-1/2.
Three Yellow Jackets tied for the team lead in interceptions, with Cody Storrs, Graham and Carrillo recording three each.