The Stephenville Yellow Jackets no longer have to deal with three-year standout quarterback Landon Ledbetter when they take on Midlothian Heritage on Friday, but the Jaguars still present one of the tougher challenges on their non-district schedule.
Coach Sterling Doty’s Jackets (2-1) dominated Class 5A Abilene Wylie (0-3) to the tune of 34-0 last Friday at Memorial Stadium for their second straight win.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars (1-2) were losing their second consecutive game, 41-28 to Decatur (3-0), which moved up from No. 8 to No. 6 in the Class 4A Division I state rankings this week.
Former Heritage quarterback Landon Ledbetter spent three seasons terrorizing defenses, but has moved on to college, to Henderson State University in Arkansas.
“They have a talented group of football players,” Doty said of this year’s Heritage squad. “I think they are very well coached, and they play fast.”
Stephenville’s matchup at Heritage this Friday night (kickoff at 7:30 p.m.) will be the first road game this season for the Jackets.
10 things to know about the Jaguars"
1. Former Heritage quarterback Landon Ledbetter, who led Heritage to the regional semifinals last season with an 11-2 record, passed for an incredible career total of 9,398 yards with 128 touchdowns in three seasons as the starter. He’s now a freshman at Henderson State University in Arkansas.
2. In his junior season at Heritage, Ledbetter led all Class 4A quarterbacks in the state with 39 TD passes and a completion rate of 68.9 percent.
3. So far this season Ledbetter’s replacement at quarterback, Cade Sumbler, has 697 yards and seven TDs, but has been intercepted five times.
4. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine’s preseason rankings this year listed the Jaguars as the No. 5 team in the state. They are no longer in Dave Campbell’s top 10, which officially took the place of the Associated Press state football rankings starting this season.
5. The Jaguars have five offensive and six defensive starters back from their District 9-4A championship team of a year ago, when they were 11-2 and regional semifinalists.
6. One of the most dangerous holdovers from the Ledbetter era at Heritage is wide receiver Jay Wilkerson. Last season he had 19 TD catches and 1,287 yards in receptions, and was named as a preseason all-state player by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. In three games this season he has 14 catches for a team-leading 279 yards and two TDs.
7. Heritage linebacker Konnor Jones is highly regarded on the defensive side after recording 116 tackles and four quarterback sacks in 2018.
8. The 1-2 Jaguars opened the season with a 63-19 win over Gatesville, which is picked to finish last in Stephenville’s District 5-4A Division I alignment. Heritage then lost to Kennedale, 35-28, and to sixth-ranked Decatur, 41-28.
9. In their fifth game last season, the Jaguars lost to District 5-4A champion and eventual state champion Waco La Vega, 45-18. That snapped the Jaguars’ 23-game win streak.
10. The year Stephenville was eliminated in the 2017 4A Division I state semifinals (2017) by Kennedale (54-28), Heritage was also knocked out of the playoffs by Kennedale, 45-43 in the regional semifinals.
The Yellow Jackets racked up 454 yards in total offense in their 34-0 win over Wylie Friday, getting three scoring passes and 279 yards through the air from quarterback Kade Renfro. Stephenville’s other two TDs came on runs by Kason Philips, who led the team in rushing with 126 yards on 19 carries.
Renfro hit Gavin Rountree for two of his TD strikes, and Trace Morrison had the other TD reception.
SHS linebacker Bryson Dill led the Jackets in tackles against Wylie with 10, including seven solo. Teammate Austin Stidham had seven tackles with 2.5 quarterback sacks, coming off a 10-tackle performance in the second game of the season against Everman.
SHS led 21-0 at halftime after scoring three times in the first quarter. The Jackets added one TD in the third quarter and another in the fourth.
“We’ve got to continue to progress as a football team,” Doty said. “We’ve got to play good (opponents) to get that done, and get prepared for district. It allows you to assess where you’ve come as a football team.”
Although Wylie was winless last season and is now 0-3 in 2019, the Bulldogs have been consistently strong over the years in Class 4A before moving up to 5A this year.
“It was a really good win,” Doty said. “In all three phases we played really well, and we’re looking forward to building on it.”