Jackets set for rivalry game vs. No. 6 Brownwood

Mark Wilson? Staff Writer
Stephenville SISD Athletic Director Jared Womack (right) stands by as infant Noah Constancio and his family are recognized as the recipients of this year's Heart of Gold award prior to the kickoff of Friday's game. Baby Noah had a successful heat transplant in June. [MARK WILSON/E-T]

The Stephenville High School football team will get its second consecutive major test this Friday when they take on unbeaten and sixth-ranked Brownwood.

The 4-3 Jackets not only have the incentive of trying to bounce back from their 42-10 loss to third-ranked Waco La Vega (6-1) last Friday, but also will be looking across the field at their oldest and most bitter rival when they take on the 7-0 Lions. The kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Tarleton State University’s Memorial Stadium, on Senior Night for the Jackets in their final regular-season home game of the year.

Brownwood is coming off an open week, and is tied with La Vega for the early District 7-4A Division I lead, at 1-0. Stephenville and China Spring are both 1-1 and Gatesville is 0-2. The top four teams in the final district standings qualify for the playoffs.

This will be the 79th chapter in the sometimes-bitter rivalry between the two schools — which began in 1937 with a 7-0 win for the Jackets. Stephenville’s 45-20 victory over the Lions last season made the all-time record 46 wins for Brownwood and 30 for the Jackets — with two ties.

The Lions have playing far above most early expectations so far this season, having been picked as only the fourth-best team in the district in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine’s preseason rankings. La Vega, the defending state champion, was picked No. 1 in that poll and Stephenville was 20th and predicted to be the district runner-up behind La Vega.

“I think they’ve got a great ball club,” SHS head coach Sterling Doty said. “Coach (Sammy) Burnett and his staff have them playing really fast, and executing at a high level. Their defense is playing great.

“I think we’re going to have to take care of the football. We’re going to have to win on both sides of the line of scrimmage. We’re going to have to control the game in the special teams.”

Here are 10 things to know about Brownwood Lions football:

1. Brownwood is one of five teams with a perfect 7-0 record in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Class 4A Division I rankings.

2. The Lions are in their second season under head coach Sammy Burnett, who led them to a 4-6 record last season, 1-3 in district.

3. There are five offensive and five defensive starters back from last year’s team, which made the playoffs but was eliminated in the bi-district round.

4. Brownwood’s top offensive threats this season have been running back Reece Rodgers (950 yards rushing with 14 touchdowns), quarterback Andrew Huff (1,103 yards and 10 TDs passing with no interceptions in 94 attempts), along with Baylor commit Adonis McCarty at wide receiver (28 catches for 627 yards and five TDs).

5. Defensive end Rowdy Gregory leads the Lions in tackles with 52, followed closely by defensive tackle Kris Hobbs and cornerback Cooper Swanzy.

6. The Lions have lost to the Yellow Jackets in five of their last seven meetings, including the last two — 45-20 last year and 28-21 in 2017.

7. Brownwood holds an edge in the all-time series against Stephenville with 46 wins, 30 losses and two ties — thanks in part to a 25-year streak (1964-1989) without a loss (one tie).

8. The Lions have seen their once massive lead in the overall series shrink significantly since the decade of the 1990s. SHS has won 19 of its last 26 meetings with Brownwood, dating back to 1990.

9. Brownwood is sixth on the all-time list of the state’s all-time winningest football teams with 738, according to a list compiled by Joe Lee Smith (texashighschoolfootballhistory.com).

10. Brownwood is in a tie with four other schools for sixth place on the all-time list of Texas high school football championships, with seven (1960, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1978, 1981), according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football online.


The Jackets are hungry “to get back in the win column” as much as they are eager to beat the rival Lions, Doty suggested.

“They have really worked hard so far,” Doty said. “We are going to have the same approach we have every week. It is our rivalry, so there’s going to be an extra amount of emotion, and it goes into the preparation. Friday night is comes down to execution and how hard we play.”


The Yellow Jackets had to take on the third-ranked La Vega squad without the talents of running back Kason Philips from the start, and also lost quarterback Kade Renfro to an injury in the second quarter. The playing status of both Philips, who had been sidelined with a hip injury, and Renfro (upper body injury) is listed as a game-time decision, according to Doty.


Renfro leads the Jackets in passing with 897 yards and four TDs and only three interceptions. Cole threw for 142 yards against La Vega after Renfro left the game with his injury, connecting on six of 15 passes with one interception.

Philips is the leading rusher this season for SHS with 502 yards on 96 carries (5.2 yards per carry) with a pair of TDs. Eduardo Campos is next with 143 yards on 35 carries, followed by Cade Cowan with 130 yards on 24 attempts.

Stephenville’s top receivers are Gavin Rountree with 443 yards and three TDs on 23 catches, and Trace Morrison with 349 yards on 17 receptions a team-leading five TD catches.

The top tacklers on defense for SHS are Quentin Walker wiht 66, Colton Accomazzo with 63 and Trace Morrison with 42.