By BRAD KEITH
(November 3, 2017) — Stephenville wrecked shop in a 49-20 win at Snyder this evening, and for The First Financial Bank First Flash – my first thought following the game, let’s focus on the star that Gage Graham has become for the Yellow Jackets.
First off, none of this should take away from Clay Krause, who was off to a great start to the season before being injured in week 5 at Graham. Krause was so effective that three games went past before Blake Aragon exceeded his team-leading 23 receptions. Crause gained 323 yards on those catches and scored three touchdowns.
Graham’s ability – and endurance – to make not just an immediate impact offensively, but a huge one at that, enabled Stephenville lose its leading receiver and not -miss a beat. Four weeks later, Graham is not only a two-way standout but a three-way star. Even with two long returns called back for penalties he had an impressive night running back punts and kicks, giving the offense the ball near or past midfield in multiple occasions.
And when a Coach Greg Winder offense starts around midfield, the defense better be on its toes, because a shot is coming. They were being fired with precision at Tiger Stadium, where Easton Jones completed all of his four second-half passes including three for touchdowns. He finished 10-12 for 321 yards and four scores.
It was apparent Jones matched his career high of five TD passes, three of them to Graham. But the first TD, a 53-yard pitch and catch, shouldn’t officially be scored as a TD pass.Graham fumbled the ball before reaching the goal line and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown, so those final yards and the score technically came on a return, not a reception. By the way, I’m sure neither Jones or Grham care how they score it as long as the points go on the board.
Blake Aragon had two touchdown catches, and one of those came after a long return by you know who.
Graham isn’t the only reason the receiving core and secondary are so solid for Stephenville. Aragon is terrific, Kyle Lindsey is great and had the best catch of the night for the last Stephenville touchdown, and Kade Averhoff is a good tight end
On the other side, the two most underrated players on the team may very well be cornerbacks Cole Pettit and Cody Storrs, the best Stephenville has had in those positions in a long time. In the back end, Graham and Chase Carillo are among the leading tacklers on the team, and Carillo recovered a fumble in the end zone that was stripped by Kasee Bouchee before the Snyder ballcarrier crossed the goal line, turning a Tiger touchdown into at touchback for Stephenville.
Graham burst onto the offensive scene with 11 catches against Lubbock Monterrey and hasn’t looked back. That’s because he’s been too busy looking ahead to all the ways Winder and company can find to get him the ball.
And they should. Because two facts are immediately noticeable about this budding star- he makes the Jackets better when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands. And he makes them prolific when he does.
With Graham impacting all three phases of the game, I’m no longer a “maybe” on my pick for next week’s district championship. For me, he makes a Stephenville win an easy call.
Almost as easy as deciding to give him the damn ball.
COLEMAN 28, DUBLIN 20
Dublin couldn’t stop the run, especially by the quarterback. I bet running the ball and stopping the run are two things almost every head coach missing the playoffs would tell you his team must do better.
HICO 16, GOLDTHWAITE 3
Didn’t I tell you this morinng that Hico’s breaks would stop Goldthwaite? This is a really good HIco defense.
De Leon 51, San Saba 7
Yawn, but next week is Goldthwaite, and surely, oh, wait, see above. It’s alright, the playoffs start soon and it will get interesting again Bearcat fans!
May 48, Lingleville 0
For Lingelville, it was always about next week’s game at Gorman. Winner gets in land loser does not.
Stephenville FAITH 46, Austin NYOS 0 (Called at half)
Mercy rule. What a great concept. UIL should consider use beyond six-man. (I bet Big Spring would agree).