By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (October 1, 2015) — New league. Same result.
Stephenville FAITH might just win it all again.
The Knights aren’t undefeated – upstart Gorman ended that.
But they are good – they are 3-1, all against UIL opponents that most schools in Division II of the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations (TAIAO) try to avoid even playing.
Even with 2013 National Homeschool Player of the Year and 2014 two-way All-American Shadd Cole gone bouncing basketballs at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, the Knights surge forward.
Which should be no surprise. They lost Daniel Winkler, Jared Veldhuizen and other stars from their first two state title teams, and continued to dominate with Cole leading the way to the next two championships.
That’s four consecutive state titles. For a program that has existed five years.
Those championships came in Division II of the Texas Christian Athletic League, but a fifth title could be just over the horizon in FAITH’s new league.
Especially if senior quarterback Joey Braun continues his stellar play. All he did in a 79-33 thumping of Cranfills Gap last week is account for 10 – yes, 10 – touchdowns. He was 17-22 passing for 378 yards and nine TDs while rushing for 57 yards and his 10th score. That’s 22 passes and three rushes – 25 plays accounting for 435 yards.
Oh, he also made 13 tackles defensively on his way to being the first repeat winner of the Flash-DQ Player of the Week honor.
For the season, Braun, the son of head coach Nick Braun, is 69-99 passing (69.7 percent) for 1,199 yards and 18 scores with just two interceptions. He has also rushed for 435 yards and 11 touchdowns, accounting for 1,634 total yards and 29 total TDs.
In just four games.
And he isn’t the only Knight putting up big production.
Brothers Kyler and Kelan Gray each had three receiving touchdowns last week, with Kelan racking up 131 yards through the air. Travis Loper scored twice last week, giving him 10 touchdowns for the year.
Will anyone in TAIAO be able to stop the Knights?
They visit Waco Parkview Christian Friday, and on paper it’s the biggest mismatch in the area this week. Following that is another road trip to Lewisville Founder’s Classical before a chance at revenge on the road at Gorman on October 16.
Gorman, the highest scoring football team in Texas this season, scored two late touchdowns to edge the Knights 53-50 two weeks ago. It remains the only loss for a FAITH team that appeared to have the game won midway through the fourth quarter.
FAITH concludes the season with Johnson County Sports Association, a familiar opponent that has also recently made the move from Texas Christian Athletic League to TAIO, and NYOS Charter out of Austin, both league games at home in Bluff Dale. JCSA visits on October 23, followed by NYOS on October 30.
Photos courtesy MEDA BOW