In their final contest before the start of District 6-4A boys soccer play, the Stephenville Yellow Jackets fell by a 3-0 count to highly ranked Rider High School Tuesday evening in Wichita Falls.

Coach Taylor Smith’s Jackets slipped to 10-6-4 on the season mark with the loss.

Smith said that Rider’s Raiders (13-2-1) are rated No. 2 among Class 5A schools in their region, and were fifth in the state in the preseason Texas Association of Soccer Coaches preseason 5A rankings.

The Jackets still have lost only two games to Class 4A foes, and the other four were against larger schools. They were coming off a road win over 5A Abilene Wylie.

Stephenville is currently No. 18 in the MaxPreps Class 5A boys rankings online.

Asked if the tough non-district schedule is paying off in preparing his players for district, Smith stated, “absolutely” and added, “We are playing at a high level and seeing a much faster game speed than last year and it should translate to district.”

Smith said the Jackets missed one scoring opportunity on a penalty kick, and “had one or two other legit scoring opportunities” when the Jackets “either kicked straight at the keeper or missed the goal.

“They were pretty good, but we played well against them. It easily could have been 2-2 if not for a couple of mistakes on our end.”

They are scheduled to open district play on Friday at home against Mineral Wells. The varsity matchup is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at Lem Brock Field.

The next contest for the Jackets is set for Tuesday, Feb. 19, at home against Graham in a non-district game. SHS will resume district play Feb. 22 at Brownwood.