CHINA SPRING — The Stephenville High School Yellow Jackets started off District 5-4A Division I football play Friday night with a 21-0 road victory over China Spring, overcoming 120 yards in penalties and three turnovers.
The Yellow Jackets, now 4-2 on the season and 1-0 in district, got two touchdowns from running back Kason Philips, but he had a 32-yard run to the end zoner that was erased by a penalty.
It marked the second shutout of the season posted by the SHS defense. The Jackets had blanked Abilene Wylie 34-0 earlier this season. The Cougars were held under 20 yards rushing for the game.
Doty said the SHS defense was relentless, and “completely took them out of their element.”
“The defense said no, no, no — it ain’t happening tonight,” Doty said. “Our defensive front, our linebackers, our safeties, great job by our coaching staff. The defensive side put a great plan together and came out and executed. They’re tough, they’re physical and they’re nasty — and they’re playing together. It’s eleven guys that are working as one.”
With only five teams in the district, the win could mean the Jackets could have an eventual playoff berth because the top four schools in the final district standings advance to the postseason.
“It feels so good. We’re already playoff-bound and it feels fantastic,” said Philips, a junior.
Philips said that head coach Sterling Doty helped the players look past their penalties and other miscues and concentrate on securing the win.
“With what all happened, (coach) Doty got our heads right, to just focus on the next thing,” Philips said.
SHS led only 7-0 at halftime, but extended the lead to 15-0 in the third quarter when Asher Dittfurth caught a 25-yard TD pass from quarterback Kade Renfro.
Philips had scored his first TD on a 4-yard run with 6:54 left in the first quarter. His second TD run came at the 7-minute mark in the final quarter from 13 yards out.
The Jackets’ defense held on to the shutout with help from an interception as well as a fumble recovery by Grayson Traweek, and two fourth-down stands that turned the ball over to the SHS offense. The second of those two defensive stands came with 4:13 left in the game, giving the SHS offense the ball at its own 14-yard line.
“(The defense did) a phenomenal job,” Doty said, emphasizing the importance of the Yellow Jackets negating the normally effective ground game featuring dangerous running back Emmanuel Abdullah. “Can’t say enough about our guys and they way they fought.”
Other statistics from the game are not yet available.
In the only other District 5-4A Division I game played this week, Brownwood also moved to 1-0 with a 49-0 win over Gatesville.
Stephenville’s next opponent, defending district and state champion Waco La Vega, had the week off. The Jackets will take on the third-ranked Pirates at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18 at Memorial Stadium in Stephenville. La Vega has won four consecutive games.