By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 20,2014) — It’s area championship week for public schools and state semifinal weekend for Stephenville FAITH. Here’s a preview of this weekend’s high school football action:
Stephenville (7-3) vs. Lubbock Estacado (9-2)
4A Divison I area playoff
7 p.m. Friday at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene
On the heels of the longest – and one of the most exciting – games in school history, Stephenville is gearing up for its next challenge – an area round playoff battle with Lubbock Estacado.
The Yellow Jackets (7-3) and Matadors (9-2) meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene. The winner faces Big Spring or Andrews in next week’s regional semifinals.
Estacado features a stable full or proven rushers with a large offensive line clearing the way.
“They’ve got great size on the offensive line and those kids play extremely hard,” said seventh-year Stephenville head coach Joe Gillespie. “They have a great deal of talent at the skill positions, especially at quarterback. He’s a talented kid with the skills of a running back, and he can also throw the ball pretty well.”
Jaleen Tennison is the Estacado quarterback, and the numbers back up Gillespie’s concern. Tennison has rushed for 1,136 yards and passed for 1,129 this season. He has thrown seven interceptions this season.
Joining Tennison in the backfield is a deep group of rushers.
“They have a rotation of running backs and their’s not a nickel’s difference between any of them,” said Gillespie. “I have a hard time watching film telling who’s who. The only thing separating them is their jerseey number, their running style is the same.”
And that style is slippery and quick with breakaway speed.
“We have to be phenomenal tacklers and we have to gang tackle,” Gillespie said. “We have to get them down in the situations where we want them down.”
Estacado had four rushers top 100 yards against Mountain View, led by Tyrese Nathan with 195 yards and three touchdowns. Keshondric Essix rushed for 134 yards and a score, David Smith added 116 yards and three TDs and Tennison galloped 101 yards and scored twice on the ground.
One thing Estacado hasn’t seen this season is an offense like Stephenville’s, a spread it out attack averaging 44.1 points and 531.7 yards per game. Even since Under Armour All-America quarterback Jarrett Stidham suffered a broken bone in his throwing hand, the success has continued with Anthony Chavarria running the show. Twice, Chavarria has directed Stephenville to more than 600 yards, and he’s passed for 1,039 yards and 12 touchdowns the last three games.
Stephenville pass for 320.9 yards per contest and rushed for 210.8. Kaegun Williams enters the contest with 1,226 yards rushing and 895 receiving.
Dublin (7-4) vs. Newton (8-3)
3A Division II area playoff
7:30 p.m. Friday at Buffalo Bison Stadium in Buffalo
Dublin is coming off its first playoff win in 50 seasons and now must deal with a tough Newton team stacked with post season tradition.
The Eagles have one of the most feared rushing attacks in Texas, but have attempted only 60 passes this season. They’re quarterback and two starting running backs, Jace Thomas and Callum Foster, have all rushed for more than 1,000 yards.
“Newton has great athletes and tradition. They’re going to run the ball, and they run it as well as anyone,” said Dublin head coach Bob Cervetto. But it’s not just Dublin that has to stop Newton. Newton has to stop Dublin, too.”
The Lions average 33 points per game after routing Corsicana Mildred 54-6 in last week’s bi-district round. Newton was busy dismantling New Waverly 46-6.
The winner faces Franklin in the regional semifinals. Franklin defeated Maypearl in an area round game Thursday night.
Hico (6-4) vs. Wolfe City (8-3)
2A Division I area playoff
7:30 p.m. Friday at Tiger Stadium in Corsicana
Hico is fresh off a bye and takes a five-game win streak straight into the second round of the post season for a date with Wolfe City, an east Texas stalwart that defeated Valley View 48-7 last week.
Wolfe City has won three straight by an average margin of 50.3 points, but they’re strength of schedule is marginal at best. Hico, on the other hand, had to deal with a strong, upstart Tolar team and traditional power Goldthwaite among others, and still won the 7-2A Division I championship.
The winner battles Crawford or Alvord in next weeks regional round.
Santo (10-1) vs. Iraan (10-0)
2A Division II area playoff
7:30 p.m. Friday
Tiger Stadium in Snyder
Santo has enjoyed its most successful season since 1994, and now the upstart Wildcats challenge one of the state’s consistent powers in unbeaten Iraan, which has won its 11 games by an average margin of 35 points.
The Wildcats are fresh off a 47-20 win over Electra in bi-district, while Iraan enjoyed an opening-round bye. The winner will be greeted by Hamlin in the regional round next week. Hamilin beat Wink 51-20 Thursday night.
Gordon (10-1) vs. Zephyr (6-5)
1A Division I regional playoff
7:30 p.m. Friday
Kooken Field in Hamilton
Gordon’s only loss is to powerhouse May, and Zephyr has won six straight since beginning the year riddled by injury and with five straight losses. At full strength, the Bulldogs have 45’d five of their last six opponents.
The winner likely faces May – assuming it beats Santa Anna – in next week’s regional final.
Stephenville FAITH (8-2) vs. Killeen Memorial Christian (6-3)
TCAL Six-Man Division II semifinal
10 a.m. Saturday
Allen Academy Field in Bryan
Stephenville FAITH defeated Killeen Memorial Christian 51-6 in the regular season, but Knights head coach Nick Braun cautions his team after Memorial Christian had a number of big plays called back for penalties. FAITH is two wins from a fourth straight state title.