This time, there is more than just pride on the line.
Head coach Sterling Doty’s Stephenville Yellow Jackets (6-4) will take on the Argyle Eagles (11-0) for the fourth time in three years on Thursday, this time in the area (second) round of the Class 4A Division I football playoffs.
The Yellow Jackets will be seeking their third consecutive win when they battle the Eagles starting at 7:30 p.m. (Nov. 21) at Newsom Stadium in Mansfield. The survivor will advance to the third round against the winner of Friday’s Brownwood-Alvarado area playoff.
“We need everybody to come out and be there Thursday night,” Doty said. “Don’t worry about the weather. Just get in the car, head northeast. Bring your cans. Let’s have a great Stephenville Yellow Jacket atmosphere.”
Stephenville, the third-place team out of District 5-4A Division I, eliminated Fort Worth Dunbar on Nov. 14, 56-14. Argyle advanced with its 56-23 bi-district win over Dallas Carter, also last Thursday.
The two teams have met three times, starting with the 2017 playoffs when the Yellow Jackets eliminated the Eagles on their way to the Class 4A Division I state semifinals. SHS won that one, 31-28.
Argyle won the next two, both in the regular season, taking a 45-35 win in the first game of 2018, and a 42-14 win in the first game this season, Aug. 30.
While Stephenville has five state football championship trophies, including four in the decade of the 90s and one in 2012, Argyle has one tucked away and has reached four other state finals, starting in 2005. All of that was under head coach Todd Rogers, whose first year as the Eagles’ head coach was 2004.
Like Doty, Argyle head coach Todd Rogers said the Eagles “knew the game was lurking” ahead, but they “rarely talk about any opponent, and take one game at a time whether it’s in the regular season or the playoffs. Rogers said don’t “spend any time or calories thinking about it until the appropriate time.”
That time came in the Eagles’ postgame huddle after beating Dallas Carter.
“It’s a sequel,” Argyle head coach Todd Rogers said of the SHS matchup. “We’ve both got our own paths and we’ve had our own successes.”
In the preseason poll published by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, Argyle was ranked No. 3 in the state and Stephenville was No. 20.
In going unbeaten (11-0) since then, the Eagles have scored an average of 54.7 points per game and allowed an average of 22.9 points defensively. Stephenville averages 27.6 points scoring this year and 22.3 allowed on defense.
“Argyle is such a unique matchup because of what they do offensively, defensively,” Doty said. “On offense they’ve got a combination of power and speed and a really good throwing quarterback, so they can do a little bit of both.”
Doty said that on defense, Argyle runs the 10-1 defense in its base package look, which was made famous by former Pilot Point and Celina head coach G.A. Moore, who has more wins than any football coach in Texas high school history. Moore earned six state championships and two co-championships, winning 423 games, with 97 losses and nine ties. The 10-1 is designed to force teams into throwing the ball by putting nine defensive players on or near the line of scrimmage.
“They’ve done a great job, got a great staff, good hard-working kids, talented kids that know how to win,” Doty said of Argyle. “And they feed off of that tradition. But they’re also on a course to set their own traditions as they go throughout this (2019) season.”
Stephenville once again reached the playoffs after battling through an extremely tough schedule. The Jackets’ four losses, in addition to Argyle, were to preseason No. 5 Midlothian Heritage, defending state champion and now third-ranked Waco La Vega, and eighth-ranked Brownwood. Doty pointed out that those four squads have a combined season record of 39 wins and only five losses.
Also notable is the fact that all four teams from Stephenville’s district, including fourth-place China Spring, are still in the playoffs in the Region II bracket. China Spring rallied for 43 points in the second half of its 50-22 upset triumph over Kennedale. And three of the four playoff teams out of Argyle’s district are still alive.
“It’s something that definitely a lot of people call Region II the ‘region of doom’. And that’s for a reason,” Doty said. “The road (to state) goes through those teams. It’s all teams that are really talented. These 16 teams (in Region II) could go into one of the other regions and make a deep run.”
Doty said of his Yellow Jackets, “Obviously we’re doing some things really well. (We’ve) got a good group of seniors and a good group of young kids.”
Since the loss to Argyle on Aug. 30 at home, the Jackets have “gained a lot of experience, we’ve learned a lot through our four losses and our six wins,” Doty said. “We’re playing with some confidence the last two games, and playing well
“It’s the playoffs. It’s win or go-home type mentality,” Doty said. “I really just a sense an urgency in everything that you do, and planning on taking care of business Thursday night and going through a normal routine and play our next game. In our minds, there’s nothing else to do.”
Here are eight things to know about the Argyle Eagles:
1. Argyle has won one state championship in football (2013), but has also played in four other state title games — 2005, 2011, 2014 and 2015. The last two were after the school moved up to the Class 4A Division I ranks.
2. The Eagles lost the 2015 state final to Waco La Vega, 33-31. Their losses in their other state finals were: 2014 to Navasota, 42-35 (double overtime); 2011 to Wimberly, 21-14 (in Class 3A Division II); and 2005 to Newton, 28-20 (in Class 2A, Division I).
3. Argyle quarterback Bo Hogeboom has 2,892 yards passing with 45 touchdowns this season. He has been intercepted nine times, while completing 155 of 236 attempts. Hogeboom hasn’t done much running, with just 12 carries for 18 yards and one TD.
4. Senior Luke Farris is the leading rusher for the Eagles, with 926 yards and 14 TDs on 168 attempts. Tito Byce is a close second to Farris in rushing, with 823 yards and 10 scores on 120 carries.
5. Cole Kirkpatrick, a 6-1 junior receiver, leads the Eagles in receiving with an incredible average of 25.7 yards per catch. He has 47 catches for 1,208 yards and 21 TDs. Alex Gonzales, a 5-10 senior, is also a dangerous receiving target for Argyle, with 805 yards and 10 scores on 44 catches.
6. A trio of players are at the top of the chart in tackles for the Argyle defense — 5-11 sophomore free safety Will Ramsey, with 72 tackles; 6-2 senior end Braiden Rexroat, with 67; and 6-2 junior end Davis Elsey, with 64.
7. In records kept online by MaxPreps dating back to 2004, the most losses Argyle has had in a single season during that period was four (7-5 in 2008).
8. During that 16-year span, the Eagles have won 188 games (and average of 11.75 per season) and lost only 31 (an average of 1.9 per season).
SHS offensive lineman Christian Martin missed the Dunbar game with a non-football ankle injury. Doty said his playing status versus Argyle will be considered a “game-time” decision.
Two other players, Cole Stanley and Eduardo Campos, left the game with minor injuries but have been cleared to play this week.
STATS VS. DUNBAR
SHS quarterback Kade Renfro threw for 244 yards and a pair of TDs against Dunbar. He completed 18 of 26 attempts with no interceptions.
Running back Kason Philips scored on a run and a pass receptions, and led the Jackets in rushing with 83 yards on 11 carries. Quicc Porter added 51 yards on four carries, while Caden Cowan was 4-48, Eduardo Campos was 6-32. Quentin Walker got one carry for a one-yard TD.
Trace Morrison was the leading receiver in the contest with 122 yards and one TD on seven catches. Gavin Rountree was 6-64, Grayson Traweek 2-38, Philips 2-23 and Cowan 1-7.
On defense, Morrison led SHS in tackles with eight (five solo). Colton Accomazzo posted seven, while Walker, Dillon Schumann and Cooper Hubble and Quicc Porter had six apiece and Bryson Dill, Austin Stidham and Harrison Barkley had five each.
Abilene Cooper, one of the former schools where Doty has been an assistant coach in the past, will be playing its Class 5A Division I area playoff game against Azle this Friday night at Tarleton State University’s Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.