CROWLEY - Stephenville has the best football team in District 8-4A. Hands down.
The Yellow Jackets (8-2, 7-0) completed their perfect run through league play with a 42-7 defeat of Crowley (3-7, 2-5) at Eagle Stadium Friday night, stretching their average margin of victory in 8-4A games to 29.9 points.
“The kids pulled together,” Stephenville head coach Joseph Gillespie said. “We came out (Friday) and did the things we had to do to win a district championship.”
The outright district title is Stephenville’s first since 2005. The Jackets split a league crown with Aledo and Everman in 2006. It’s the program’s first district championship under Gillespie, who improved to 18-6 in his second season as head coach.
Senior Michael Price remembers when his class struggled as freshmen, and gets emotional when discussing their turnaround.
“We came from going 1-9 as a freshman team to winning a district championship as seniors,” Price said. “It just proves that hard work really does pay off.”
“This was a great game for us,” said senior receiver Cole Stokes. “It’s what we needed to keep our momentum going into the playoffs.”
Junior running back James Myles continued his stellar year with 155 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Myles, who finished the regular season with 1,350 yards on the ground, also had nine catches for 71 yards in the win.
Stephenville, which opens 4A Division II playoff action against Fort Worth Polytechnic in Burleson Thursday, converted three Crowley turnovers into first half touchdowns and had a more than comfortable 35-0 lead at the break.
Stokes hauled in two touchdown catches in the opening half despite playing with a broken thumb. Sophomore quarterback Connor Washington fired both scoring strikes as part of a 17-21 passing performance that netted 161 yards.
The Stephenville defense set up first half scores with a Reilly Avalos interception that he returned 55 yards and fumble recoveries by Jared Slemmons and Aiavion Edwards.
Padyn Giebler intercepted a pass to set up Myles’ final rushing touchdown midway through the fourth, and the Jackets forced another turnover when Price recovered a fumble. Stephenville also picked up a blocked punt when senior T.R. Varnado tore through the line and smashed into the Crowley punter just as he tried to get the kick off.
Stephenville held Crowley to only 70 yards on 35 carries. The Jackets outgained the Eagles 305-235.
Yellow Jacket fans did get a couple second-half scares as Slemmons was shaken up and Myles finished the game limping on a sore ankle.
“He’s fine,” Gillespie said of Slemmons. “If it was a big game he could have come back in and played, but we didn’t want to chance it.”
Myles says he is good to go as well.
“My ankle is trying to hold me back but I’ll be okay,” Myles said. “As long as the Lord is with me, I’ll be fine.”