Stephenville football fans who attend this Friday’s non-district matchup at Salado may spot a familiar face on the sidelines — Alan Haire, who left his position as SISD athletic director in January 2016 to return to his high school alma mater to become head coach of the Eagles.
Haire had been named Stephenville’s athletic director in March of 2015 to replace Joe Gillespie, who left to take a coaching job with the University of Tulsa.
SHS head coach Sterling Doty — who also returned to his alma mater when he became head coach of the Yellow Jackets prior to the 2019 season — will be looking for win No. 2 this season when the teams clash Friday. The kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Stadium, at 620 Thomas Arnold Road in Salado.
The Yellow Jackets, 1-1, are looking forward to rebounding from their 41-0 loss to the highly-ranked Lampasas Badgers Friday in their 2020 home opener at Memorial Stadium. Lampasas (2-0) maintained its No. 3 ranking in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine’s Class 4A Division I poll this week. The Badgers had entered Friday’s game ranked No. 1 in the Harris Ratings.
Salado (1-1), a member of District 9-4A Division II, is coming off a 21-7 loss to Grandview — the No. 2 Class 3A Division I team in the state, according to Dave Campbell’s rankings.
The Eagles run an offense rarely seen among today’s more commonly seen wide-open style of offenses — based out of a slot-T formation, with coach Haire’s son, senior Hutton Haire, running the show.
"They do a great job of running that offense. They are very efficient," Doty said of Salado. "Defensively they are physical and they tackle well. Overall, they are very well-coached. They are a physical, downhill, smash-mouth program (that is) disciplined and they play the game the right way."
Doty said that the quarterback is "very fluid with all his plays," adding, "They do a really good job of misdirection and fakes to confuse the defense. They’re not going to throw often, but when they do he is an accurate passer."
The Eagles will be aiming to limit the Yellow Jackets’ possessions so that they can control the ball and run time off the clock.
Although the rushing attack is their key approach, the Eagles’ offense also has "the backs to be explosive" at times, Doty said, noting that Reid Vincent is a "great back." He also noted that the Eagles have another top standout on defense, with Wrook Brown at safety.
Lampasas senior quarterback Ace Whitehead — last year’s Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 34 touchdowns and more than 3,000 yards — had a hand in five TDs in the win over SHS. His three TD passes were from 2, 74 and 9 yards out, and he added scoring runs of 4 and 6 yards.
The SHS offense was limited to 90 yards in total offense in 40 plays from scrimmage, coming off a 58-32 win at Sweetwater in which the Jackets has racked up 535 yards of offense. That included three TDs and over 200 yards from running back Kason Philips, and more than 200 yards in total offense from quarterback Gavin Rountree, who scored three TDs and was on target passing with 13 of 15 completed for 165 yards.
The Lampasas defense limited the Jackets to 90 yards in total offense, again on 40 snaps. The SHS receivers had five catches for 52 yards, and the Jackets rushing for 38 yards as a team. Philips provided a team-leading 50 yards on 11 carries. Coy Eakin led the SHS receivers with two catches for 47 yards. Trace Morrison had one reception for 9 yards.
Meanwhile, Whitehead guided the Badgers to three scores in each half.
SHS senior linebacker Colton Accomazzo said after that game, "We’ve just got to execute better. They’re a great team. We’ve just got to rebound. We will figure out what’s wrong and rebound next week."
Doty put the blame for that loss on himself, saying it was due to "me coaching poorly. I have to get the football team better prepared.
"Saturday we were able to review the game film as a staff, and addressed area we need to improve with the kids. After that, we laid that game to rest very quickly. We have three more games to go to get ourselves ready for district. We look forward to coming out and playing well this week on the road."
The Jackets put together a scoring threat late in the second quarter, with a chance to pull within two scores when they reached the Lampasas 7-yard line. On second down, however, Lampasas intercepted a pass in the end zone to end the threat with 9:19 left in the quarter, as Badgers maintained their 20-0 lead going into the second half.
Doty added, "There is a ton of growth that can come out of that game. We had chances to gain some momentum, and put some pressure on them. Lampasas played really well."