By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 18, 2014) — How close is Jarrett Stidham to returning for the Stephenville Yellow Jackets?
The Under Armour All-American has not played since breaking a bone in his throwing hand on Stephenville’s opening drive at Big Spring on Oct. 24, but could be close to a comeback according to head coach Joe Gillespie.
That does not mean, however, that Stidham will play, or even suit up on when the Yellow Jackets take on Lubbock Estacado in a 4A Division I area playoff at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene at 7 p.m. Friday.
“Honestly, at this point, we’re just a little over three weeks removed from surgery,” said Gillespie Tuesday. Stidham had a plate and eight screws installed on Oct. 27. “He has made tremendous strides in his recovery and the doctors and him are extremely pleased with how he’s coming along. He has picked up a ball and started throwing a little bit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ready.
“We were in week-to-week mode after the surgery, and now we’re in the mode of day-to-day,” Gillespie added. “This is the first week where we’ve said, let’s see what Monday brings, and if it’s good, let’s see what Tuesday brings. But we’re still taking infant steps because we have to be 100 percent sure with the call whenever it’s made. We have to do what’s absolute best for the Stephenville Yellow Jackets and what’s best for that young man, and we have to consider the job Anthony (Chavarria) has done, as well.”
In the opening seven games of the season, Stidham passed for 2,148 yards and 24 touchdowns with just one interception while also rushing for 590 yards and eight scores. The Texas Tech pledge and Elite 11 fraternity member received his Under-Armour All-America jersey in a ceremony at Gandy Gym last week.
Gillespie has nothing but praise for Chavarria’s performance in Stidham’s stead. Since taking over against Big Spring, he has passed for 1,039 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“Anthony is on the same pace Jarrett was on as far as throwing the ball,” said Gillespie. “I’m all kinds of fired up for Anthony, because while we hate to see it come this way and certainly hate to see Jarrett injured, Anthony is a kid who just needed an opportunity to shine and he’s certainly done that.”