As Stephenville head football coach Greg Winder told his players on Oct. 6, after their second straight loss, nothing that has happened so far this season really matters.
Of course, Winder not only was referring to the losses to Graham and Lubbock Monterey, but the veteran coach’s comment also covered the team’s remarkable start this season — with a four-game win streak.
Those six games and a dollar might get you a small cup of bad hot chocolate at the concessions stand during the District 3-4A, Div. I opener, Oct. 20 at Brownwood.
The victories were thrilling for the fans and players who endured a 3-8 season record in 2016. The losses were somewhat disappointing, despite losing against two outstanding teams.
“Monterey’s a good football team,” Winder stated. “We came up short, but the kids played hard.”
Since none of those wins or losses will affect the 4-2 Yellow Jackets in District 3-4A, Div. I, most certainly their most important work is ahead of them.
“When you get beat, it hurts,” Winder said. “But that’s over with now.”
Winder said that during the bye week, the team would be getting back to fundamentals — tackling, throwing and catching.
TIME FOR HEALING
Some things that have happened do matter, however. One such category is injuries. The Jackets welcomed back starting quarterback Easton Jones during their Sept. 15 home game against Everman. Jones, a senior who had been the starter for the previous two years at quarterback, brings his leadership and experience factors to the young squad in Winder’s third season at the helm.
But in the Graham game, the Jackets temporarily lost the services of another key offensive starter, junior Krece Nowak, to a rib injury. He was held out of the Monterey game, and his playing status had been listed as “day-to-day.”
Then in the Monterey game, receiver Clay Krause suffered a bone bruise in one of his knees. Late in that same game, receiver Kyle Lindsey left the field with an injury.
Earlier this week, Winder said that Nowak is now “good to go” and should be available for the Brownwood contest. He said that Krause had an MRI last weekend, and is likely to miss three to four weeks of play. Lindsey had inflamed ribs and is able to play.
DISTRICT PLAY ON THE WAY
While the Jackets enjoy this weekend off from playing as their bumps and bruises mend, Brownwood and Abilene Wylie start off the first week of district play with a bang. The Lions took on Wylie last night in Abilene. Both teams entered the contest with 3-2 records, but the two perennial playoff contenders are expected to be a handful in district play.
“That ought to be a real good ballgame,” Winder said of Brownwood’s matchup against Wylie.
Brownwood opened the season with a 60-20 win over Canyon, then fell to Graham 54-49 to to Liberty Hill 70-49. The Lions bounced back with a 21-7 decision over Alvarado and a 20-14 win over Giddings.
Last season, Brownwood was a 28-13 winner over the Yellow Jackets.
Wylie is having some key injury concerns of its own, including quarterback Sam King, contributing to losses to Denison High (24-23) and Argyle (56-7). King returned to action in the Bulldogs’ 50-7 win over Brownfield Sept. 29 before last week’s open date.
The Bulldogs had opened the season with a 45-6 win over Vernon, followed by a 42-17 victory over Monterey.
The Jackets’ matchup against Wylie will be the final week of the regular season, Nov. 10 in Stephenville. Last season, Wylie defeated the Jackets, 44-3, on the way to the Division I state championship game against Carthage. The Bulldogs were defeated in that title game, 31-17.
“Wylie is solid. They are a good ball team,” Winder said.
After Stephenville’s battle with rival Brownwood, the next game for the Jackets will be Oct. 27 at home against winless Big Spring. The Steers are 0-6 after their 54-7 loss to Graham last week.
The Steers’ season began with a 38-18 loss to Amarillo Caprock, followed by a 56-20 defeat at the hands of Sweetwater, which was the Class 4A, Div. II state finalist in 2016.
Big Spring then lost to Monahans 45-20, Canyon 35-7 and Andrews 55-8.
“Big Spring has a new coach. They are trying to get it all together,” Winder said. “They’re still competitive.”
The Jackets outscored Big Spring last season, 52-27.
Stephenville will have its longest road game of the regular season on Nov. 3, when the Jackets travel to Snyder, which entered last night’s game against Snyder at 1-5.
The Tigers dropped their season opener to Greenwood, 14-7, then posted their only win in the second week of the season, 37-34 over Muleshoe. Seminole blanked the Tigers 40-0, Sweetwater beat them 45-7 and Levelland edged them 26-21.
Last year, Stephenville was a 32-29 winner over Snyder.
“Going in (to district play), you always know Brownwood and Abilene Wylie will be strong contenders, like they always are,” Winder said. “In this district, you have to be ready to play every Friday.”