The Stephenville Yellow Jackets are 11th in the state in Class 4A Division I in the preseason football rankings published in the 2020 edition of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine. Four of the six teams in Stephenville’s District 5-4A are among the top 15 teams in the state.


According to the latest guidelines issued by the University Interscholastic League, preseason practices for volleyball, cross country and football will be getting underway on Monday, Aug. 3. Offseason conditioning and weight training resumed this week after being briefly suspended by the UIL.


SHS head football coach Sterling Doty said that football preseason practice starting Aug. 3 will be from 4-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The morning schedule starting that week will feature weight training and studying videos beginning at 6:30 a.m.


The annual Blue and Gold scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8, with the varsity/junior varsity squads starting at 10 a.m. The freshman Blue and Gold scrimmage is set for 9 a.m.


Dave Campbell’s football predictions list 2019 state finalist Waco La Vega as the No. 1 team in the state and the favorite to win the six-team District 5-4A alignment. Stephenville is picked as the district’s runner-up, followed by Midlothian Heritage — one spot behind Stephenville in the magazine’s state rankings, at No. 12.


Perennial rival Brownwood is the magazine’s pick to finish fourth, and is No. 15 in the state. Alvarado and Waxahachie Life School are predicted to finish fifth and sixth, respectively.


With the most recent UIL realignment, Stephenville’s district expanded from five schools to six — dropping China Spring and Gatesville, but gaining Alvarado, Life School and Heritage.


A note in the magazine under the headline "Three districts to watch" about the strength of District 5-4A Division I says, "Looking outside of La Vega, you have legitimately four other great teams battling for just three playoff spots."


Doty has 20 returning varsity lettermen from the 2019 squad that finished 6-5 overall and reached the area round of the playoffs.


He noted that the prognostications show a respect for Stephenville’s status among the state’s most respected football programs, having earned five state championship trophies.


"Those guys at Dave Campbell’s respect us as a football program," Doty said. "A lot of that is done based on what you’ve done in the past. We finished last year on a strong note.


"Rankings are great for the fans, and Dave Campbell’s is known as the football bible for fans, no doubt. But it’s not where you start out (that matters), but where you finish."


La Vega reached the state championship game, falling to Carthage 42-28, and returns six offensive and eight defensive starters from the 14-2 squad, so the No. 1 preseason ranking was not unexpected.


"They have a lot of players back, especially up front. I was definitely anticipating La Vega to be up there," Doty said.


Dave Campbell’s preseason all-state selections for 4A Division I features Stephenville senior Trace Morrison at punter. He earned postseason all-state honors last year as a junior at that position.


SHS finished third (2-2) in its district behind La Vega (4-0) and Brownwood (3-1, 11-2 overall) last year. After losing back-to-back matchups to those teams, the Jackets defeated Gatesville and then topped Fort Worth Dunbar in the bi-district round of the playoffs before falling to Argyle in the area round.


The Jackets’ non-district football schedule this season starts with Sweetwater (away) on Aug. 28, followed by Everman (home) Sept. 4, Salado (away) Sept. 11, Abilene Wylie (away) Sept. 18, and Waco Connally (home) Sept. 25.


After an open week, the Jackets’ district schedule has La Vega (home) Oct. 9, Alvarado (away) Oct. 16, Waxahachie Life School (home) Oct. 23, Midlothian Heritage (home) Oct. 30, and Brownwood (away) Nov. 6. All of the games will have 7:30 p.m. kickoffs.