BY RUSSELL HUFFMAN
The #6 Yellow Jackets are heading into their biggest game of the season Friday against #4 Waco La Vega and that’s saying a lot considering Stephenville has already matched up against the number one and two teams in the state.
But so has La Vega and with different results as Stephenville fell to Midlothian Heritage in a tight 26-21 game that Heritage snatched away in the closing minutes. La Vega dominated Heritage 45-18 and they did that in a road game.
With only two games into district play, it this appears this contest game could very well determine who will be the 5-4A champion and seeding for 1-2 in the playoffs.
Against number one Argyle, La Vega lost 31-29 while Stephenville lost 45-35 to the 6-0 Eagles, and those results have got the predictions falling La Vega’s way for Friday night.
It’s hard to argue La Vega isn’t favored and then again this is a different Stephenville team from the one that stepped out on the field at the start of the season and most notably at quarterback where Kade Renfro has stepped in for the injured Cole Stanley and thrived.
Coach Greg Winder said at the season’s start he hadn’t picked a starter and noted both of his quarterbacks did different things well. Renfro had been dealing with a hip flexor issue at the season’s start which hampered his mobility.
Since taking over the starting role Renfro has completed 61 percent of his passes (44-72-1) for 670 yards and seven touchdowns. He will need to be just as tight this week against La Vega which has a ball-hawking defense just like the Jackets.
La Vega has only thrown for just over 300 yards this season as they prefer to keep the ball on the ground and in the hands of running backs Elisha Cummings (459 yards) and Josh Hamilton 28-carries 275 yards.
Quarterback Ara Rauls like to take advantage of La Vega’s run-run-run lull you to sleep ground game and hits the defense for a pass if they start maneuvering to cover the run. Rauls’ 23-46 passing for 302 yards shows how much La Vega likes the ground game.
Forcing La Vega into a passing game maybe Stephenville’s best bet which means the Jackets need to manage the clock and hopefully put a couple of scores on the board that will force La Vega to play catch up through the air.
The Jackets will need a big night from senior running back Krece Nowak whose feet and hands have produced 603 rushing yards and 374 yards receiving. Nowak breaking away can make all kinds of scenarios begin to develop including creating openings for the passing game.
Game time is set for 7 PM Friday at La Vega’s Pirate Stadium.