BURLESON — The Stephenville High School Yellow Jackets certainly didn’t look past their bi-district football playoff game Thursday night to the team they knew would be popping up next — top-ranked Argyle.
The Jackets obliterated Fort Worth Dunbar, 56-14, as former SHS player Sterling Doty notched his first playoff victory as their head coach in a game played at Burleson ISD Stadium.
The Jackets, now 6-4 on the season, will take on 11-0 Argyle — ranked No. 1 in the state — in the second round. That area playoff game is set for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, at Newsom Stadium in Mansfield. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. Stephenville will be on the home side.
SHS, which bolted to a 43-0 halftime lead, got three touchdowns on the night from running back Kason Philips, while quarterback Kade Renfro connected on two TD passes and ran for another. Trace Morrison, Quentin Walker and Caden Cowan also scored TDs. Also for SHS, Colton Accomazzo recorded a quarterback sack in the end zone for two points on a safety. Sophomore Corbin Poston, who moved up to the varsity after the end of the junior varsity season, kicked two field goals and six of seven extra points.
Dunbar’s season ended with a 5-6 record. The Wildcats were the runner-up team in District 6-4A Division I behind Kennedale.
After the game, Doty congratulated his players on being “one of the 32” — meaning one of the 32 teams remaining in the Class 4A Division I playoff bracket.
“We executed on offense and defense and special teams,” Doty said. “We fed off each other. It really showed our guys’ level of focus for that first (playoff) game. We had stops on defense, and we punched it in on offense. Overall, it was a great night. We are one of ‘the 32.’”
SHS junior wide receiver Gavin Rountree said, “We all bonded together as a team. We expected more of a fight, but we came out and played our butts off.”
Argyle advanced to the area playoff round with its 56-23 bi-district playoff win over Dallas Carter, which was also played Thursday night.
The Jackets met Argyle in the first game this season, in Stephenville, and lost by a 42-14 count. Argyle also was the winning team when the teams played in the 2018 season opener, 45-35. Stephenville had prevailed over the Eagles, 31-28, when the two schools met in a regular-season clash in 2017 on the Yellow Jackets’ way to reaching the state semifinals.
Senior offensive lineman Caleb Smith even suggested that the Jackets will carry something other than momentum into the game against Argyle.
“They beat us before, and we’re not going to let that slide,” Smith said. “This is not a normal game. We’re coming in with a chip on our shoulder.”
Argyle began this season ranked No. 3 in the state in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football’s online predictions, while Stephenville was 20th. Since then, the Eagles took over the top spot in the rankings and are looking for their 12th consecutive win.
“I think everybody did their job and played together, and that’s what got it done,” said junior wide receiver Trace Morrison said of the Dunbar game before adding, “I think we’re gong to hit it rolling, and shock the world next week.”
The Yellow Jackets’ defense held the Wildcats scoreless until the fourth quarter, when Dunbar managed to score two touchdowns. The Wildcats’ final TD came with just 5 seconds left in the game.
“We played phenomenal,” said senior linebacker and tight end Quentin Walker. “We all worked as one unit. We’ve just got to keep working hard, and play as one. If we play like we did tonight, we will be plenty good.”
The Jackets opened the scoring with a 12-yard TD pass from Renfro to Philips for a 7-0 lead at the 8:36 mark in the first quarter.
Walker took a handoff and recorded a diving one-yard TD plunge that made it 14-0 with 5:01 to go in the quarter.
Renfro’s second TD pass was to Morrison, from 15 yards out with 11:34 to go in the second period before Philips quickly picked up the first of his two rushing TDs from 7 yards out at the 9:03 mark.
The Jackets seemed on the verge of scoring another TD midway through the second quarter, pushing to within a yard of the goal line but the Wildcats recovered a fumble on that play.
Accomazzo recorded his sack on the next play, however, after the quarterback had to chase a bad snap into his own end zone. That gave the Jackets the two points to make it a 29-0 lead with 6:46 remaining in the third quarter.
Philips added a 5-yard scoring run with 4:44 left in the second quarter, and Cowan scored on a 1-yard TD with 26 seconds to go before halftime.
The Jackets scored their final TD with the first-team units still in the game on the first series of the second half, as Renfro carried the ball into the end zone. Poston also kicked the first of his two field goals in the third quarter, before adding the second to make it 56-6 with 4:31 left in the fourth quarter.
The winner of the SHS-Argyle game will advance to the third round to play one of four possible teams, pending the outcome of Friday night’s bi-district playoff contests — Brownwood vs. Fort Worth Castleberry, and Alvarado vs. Paris. Brownwood was the runner-up in Stephenville’s District 5-4A alignment.
Defending state champion Waco La Vega won the district for the second year in a row, and advanced to the area round with its 72-0 win Thursday over Lake Worth, which was the fourth-place team out of District 6. China Spring, the fourth-place team in Stephenville’s district, was scheduled to play its bi-district playoff against Kennedale on Friday night (Nov. 15) at Tiger Stadium in Glen Rose.