Aiavion Edwards made his varsity football debut as a linebacker in the 2008 state playoffs for Stephenville.

But he didn’t really burst onto the scene until a 2009 District 8-4A game against Mansfield Legacy.

The sophomore defensive back changed the course of the important early league contest midway through the third period. Legacy was driving down 17-7, and had a chance to pull within three points with a touchdown. Instead, Edwards stepped in front of a pass, snagged it, and raced 95 yards down the home sideline, scoring yet another defensive touchdown for a team that became known for such scores last fall.

It was the biggest play in a season full of big ones for Edwards and the Jacket defense. He went on to be named first-team all-district by 8-4A coaches and honorable-mention All-State by the Texas Sports Writers Association.

Edwards hopes to improve and earn more All-State honors this season.

“I’m looking forward to getting (first-team) All-State,” Edward’s said. “That’s my personal goal. Really, I just want to do whatever I can to help the team.”

That’s a good attitude, especially for someone who will likely be asked to help his team in a lot of areas this fall.

Edwards and record-setting running back James Myles are the Jackets’ return men on kickoffs for a second straight year, and Edwards also expects to share some of the offensive attention with Myles this fall.

“I’ll be playing a lot more offense this year,” he said. “I can’t wait to help on that side of the ball, too.”

Edwards knows the Jackets are “just that close” to a state title, and says the time for getting over the hump is now.

“We’ve been just that close to advancing and maybe to winning state,” he said. “We’ve been working harder than ever before to try to get there.”

Edwards says he loves opening the season against Aledo, and hopes to avenge last year’s season-opening and playoff losses to the state champion Bearcats.

“I’m definitely glad we’re playing Aledo,” Edwards said. “I want revenge. That and it’s a great game to see where we’re at.”

-Brad Keith