Brad Keith, Sports Editor

In front of over 11,000 fans at Wichita Falls Memorial Stadium Saturday, the Stephenville Yellow Jackets took the podium and delivered a resounding three-fold message.

Speaking first on behalf of the Jackets were the War Dogs on defense, announcing their presence with bold authority. Wichita Falls Rider, the No. 5 team in the state of Texas according to the most recent Associated Press Class 4A football poll, had scored 31 points on then-No. 5 Wolfforth Frenship, and tallied 42 against Class 5A Midland Lee. The Raiders, however, could muster only 15 points against SHS, finding the end zone only twice.

While Rider did manage to accumulate 277 passing yards, the Yellow Jackets left the Raiders nowhere to go on the ground. Jurrel Thompson and Damien Washington, who combined for over 2,700 yards and 30 touchdowns last fall, tallied only 36 yards on 12 carries Saturday. And how about Shavodrick Beaver, the quick, elusive magician at quarterback? He was sacked five times on his way to an astoundingly low total of four yards on eight carries. In all, the Raiders compiled only 32 yards on 20 rushing attempts.

The War Dogs were brilliantly trained by the defensive coaching staff, and executed their game plan to near perfection, allowing only one big play and forcing five turnovers along the way.

Kody Spano took the stage next, leaving fans bewildered. Surely anyone not hiding in a cave last fall knew the Stephenville senior was deadly with his arm. Saturday, everyone discovered just how efficient he can be with his feet.

Spano scrambled to successfully convert three consecutive third downs on the game's pivotal drive. The Jackets led 14-9, when the possession began. When the drive ended with what else but Spano diving over a crowd at the goal line for a touchdown, SHS had the insurance score it sorely needed early in the fourth quarter. The decorated senior signal caller finished with 119 rushing yards, proving to all just how complete his game really is.

The scoreboard provided the final phase of Stephenville's message, letting any and all who dared to steal a glance toward the south end of the stadium see for themselves that the Yellow Jackets had validated every bit of respect due them as the No. 3 team in the state. The board read Stephenville 27, Rider 15.

Statement delivered. Message received.