The Stephenville High School Yellow Jackets, coming off their first football victory of the season, have been getting ready for a familiar foe for their third game of the season.
Coach Sterling Doty’s Jackets (1-1) will take on former district rival Abilene Wylie at home in Tarleton’s Memorial Stadium Friday with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
SHS pulled out an exciting 13-10 triumph over Class 5A Everman last Friday night at home.
Wylie is 0-2 and lost all 10 of its games last season — rare lean years for a program that has a long history of excellence in its previous Class 3A level.
The Bulldogs are still led by head coach Hugh Sandifer, who is one of the winningest active high school football coaches in Texas. Sandifer guided Wylie to a state championship in 2004. Between 2004 and 2009, Wylie won 66 games including the playoffs and lost only 17.
Doty said his Yellow Jackets know better than to fall into the trap of taking the Bulldogs lightly.
Here are eight things to know about the Wylie Bulldogs:
1. In 2018 the Bulldogs were 0-10, for the first time since 1982. It was their first season in Class 5A Division II, after competing for many years in 4A. Wylie is a former district rival of the Yellow Jackets.
2. Last season marked the end of 24 consecutive playoff seasons for Wylie.
3. Wylie’s starting quarterback job was taken over this year by a junior (Jaxon Hansen) for the first time since Case Keenum was the starting signal caller in 2004 when he led the Bulldogs to a Class 3A Division I state championship, according to the Abilene Reporter-News. Keenum is now in the NFL with the Washington Redskins. Keenum’s father, Steve Keenum, is the former McMurry University head football coach who is now area director for the Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
4. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine’s preseason poll had Wylie picked to finish fifth in the six-team District 3-5A Division II alignment behind Lubbock Cooper, Wichita Falls Rider, Canyon Randall and Wichita Falls High. Plainview was picked sixth.
5. The Bulldogs have only two offensive and two defensive starters back from their winless 2018 campaign.
6. In limited playing time as a sophomore last season, Hansen passed for 405 yards and three touchdowns.
7. Wylie’s top defensive performers are expected to include linebacker Brodey Baker and tackle Dayton Barnes, who posted 58 and 65 tackles last season, respectively.
8. Wylie’s losing streak continued through the first two games this season, falling to Georgetown in Week One, 49-19, then losing to Lubbock Monterey 48-26 last week.
After taking a 6-0 lead in the opening quarter on Trace Morrison field goals of 30 and 50 yards, the Jackets found themselves trailing Everman 7-6 at halftime after the Bulldogs had scored on an 11-yard run.
The Bulldogs increased their lead to 10-6 with a 22-yard field goal at the 11:55 mark in the third quarter.
But Stephenville quarterback Kade Renfro found Grayson Traweek in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown throw to give the Jackets the lead again, 13-10, with 4:53 remaining in the fourth quarter.
With Everman marching toward the goal in the closing minutes, SHS defensive back Gavin Rountree stepped in front of a Bulldog pass near the goal line for his second interception of the game. He returned it to the Jackets’ 44-yard line. The Jackets ran out the final 1:16 to secure the win.
Doty, who played on Stephenville’s 1998-1999 state championship teams and was hired as head coach earlier this year after his first head coaching stint at Magnolia, said his first win leading the Jackets was special for the players as well as himself.
“It’s special for this whole group, not just me,” Doty said. “It helps build momentum going into next week.
“The game was on the line and it came down to that one play (the interception). We had two or three interceptions, so we did a great job on the turnover battle. It was a great catch in the corner by Traweek. We were fighting, clawing and digging to pull out a victory.”
Renfro passed for 256 yards, completing 17 of 28 with no interceptions.
Traweek had 104 yards on six catches to lead the team in receptions.
Kason Philips was the top SHS rusher with 50 yards on nine carries. He added 32 more yards on three pass receptions.
Defensively for SHS, linebacker Quentin Walker led in tackles with 17 (six solo), while linebacker Colton Acomazzo was next with 13 (six solo). Linemen Daniel Luna and John Rex Haile also reached double-figures in tackles. They had 10 each, with Luna having six solo stops and Haile getting four including one behind the line.
Several players went down with minor injuries and some were temporarily sidelined by cramps in the heat, but Doty reported no significant new injuries.