By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (September 14, 2017) — Everman still has three things concerning for any opponent – Dale Keeling as head coach, talent at the skill positions and raw speed.
Ugly losses to Mansfield Timberview and The Colony don’t change those facts, they merely make the Bulldogs (0-2) even more hungry to taste the feeling of victory this Friday when they visit Stephenville (2-0) at 7:30 p.m. The Yellow Jackets, on the other hand, are vying for just their third 3-0 start since 2007, when they began 9-0 for the fourth consecutive year. They won their first three in 2011 and again in 2014.
Everman ended nine-game Stephenville win streaks in the final week of the regular season in 2006 and 2007, and beat the Jackets in both the regular season and the state quarterfinals in 2008. Stephenville won three straight in 2009, 2014 and 2015 before Everman won last season, 31-24.
“They haven’t changed that much. They still have a lot of team speed. They’re real fast, like always. They don’t really have quite as big a defensive line as they have in the past but they still have big guys,” said Stephenville head coach Greg Winder. “The bottom line is it;s Everman. They’re tough. They’ve always been tough, we’ve had a good back and forth with them for years now.”
And the keys to beating Everman are the same now as they always have been, says Widner, as he echoes Joseph Gillespie before him and Chad Morris before Gillespie in saying “We have to keep them from getting into space, we have to set the edge and contain well out th
ere and we have to tackle really well. Assignments and gap responsibilities are magnified when you play a team with a lot of speed. We just need to do what we’re coached to do.”
Everman is also still Everman in regards to struggling at quarterback, the primary issue holding back the Bulldogs the past decade and then some. And because of it, they’re offense remains about as simplified as possible.
“They haven’t changed up what they do hardly at all. I mean, if you want to scout this Everman team you can just stick in the tape from any other one you’ve faced the last several years, because it’s the same stuff,” he said. “But knowing it and stopping it aren’ the same thing. Defensively we still have to contain all their speed in the run game.”
Winder refused to discuss who will start behind center when Stephenville has the ball. Tyler Schouten started last week and after struggles revealed he had felt a pop and some pain in his shoulder, Cole Stanley took over in a relatively easy 41-13 win at Springtown. Schouten went most the way effectively in a 53-20 victory over Cleburne to begin the season.
“They’ve both done some good things for us that have really been invaluable since we lost Easton (Jones),” said Winder. “Cole came in last week and helped us through a tough time with Tyler out, the same as Tyler’s been doing with Easton out. The bottom line is, Tyler has done some things well and so has cole. Where exactly are we on that? That’s just something you’ll have to see when we get to Friday night.”
Winder said he is unsure of a possible timeline on the return of Jones, who tore a ligament in the elbow of his throwing (right) arm, but has steadily improved through stem cell treatment instead of having Tommy John surgery, which would surely have ended his senior year before it started.
Jones has increased the distance to as far as 40 yards in his rehab wok, and his family believes he will be back sooner rather than later.
In the mean time, it doesn’t matter who plays quarterback hone Krece Nowak and the offensive line dominate the way they have. Nowak has 39 carries for 471 yards and seven TDs with four receptions for 48 yards an another score. That’s 43 touches for 519 yards of offense in just two games. He’s achieved that mountain of stats behind a amounting of an offensive line by 4A standards.
Our O-line has come so far from the Glen Rose scrimmage, and they’ve gotten to where they joy being physical and are making it habit to play that way,” said Winder. “I don’t know if here was actually a turning point in there, so much as they just figured out that if they will get physical and get a body on a body long enough to open up just a little space for Krece, then he can dart through there and make some big plays.
“And he’s improved a lot himself. He’s gotten stronger an faster since last year, and his vision has improved,” Winder continued. “A lot of that is just fully understanding our playboy to the point that whatever we all is automatic to him. When that happens, it feels like things are happening slower and you get the chance to see things maybe you weren’t seeing before, like little backside cuts or just when to break off a certain block. Krece is doing all those things a lot better than he last season.”
And just as Everman hasn’t changed, the best way to beat the Bulldogs hasn’t either. And that means Nowak will be scheduled for a lot of work Friday night.
“Offensively, you want to be effective while controlling the ball and using clock, and the best way to do that is to run the ball,” said Winder. “That’s what we’ve been best at the first couple games.”
But while the jury is still out concerning an Everman teem that has faced an elite level of competition earl yon, one thing’s for sure – Bulldog opponents Timberview and The Colony are a lot better than the Cleburne and Springtown clubs Stephenville has seen.
“They were competitive with both of them until it got kind of ugly late in those games,” said Winder. “Those are very talented teams who are going to beat a lot of folks that way. You can have a good football team and still lose to those, too, and that’s how I feel about Everman.”