BATTLE OF 377: Winder says rivalry different, still meaningful

Stephenville, Brownwood meet for 75th time to begin district

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Josh Nowell runs after a reception at Alvarado on Friday, September 25. Stephenville celebrates homecoming this Friday against longtime rival Brownwood. || TheFlashToday.com photo by RUSSELL HUFFMAN

By BRAD KEITH

TheFlashToday.com

STEPHENVILLE (October 6, 2015) — This week marks the ninth time Greg Winder has helped prepare a Stephenville team to face longtime rival Brownwood in the famed “Battle of 377.”

Winder was part of the rivalry as offensive coordinator under Mike Copeland in 2002 and 2003, and returned to Stephenville and the rivalry series in 2008 under Joseph Gillespie.

But this is Winder’s first taste of the heated rivalry from the hot seat as head coach, though even he says things aren’t as intense between Stephenville and Brownwood as they were just 13 years ago.

“When I was here in 2002 and 2003, that was the first time I got a real taste of it,” said Winder in an interview conducted moments after Copeland himself exited Winder’s office in Stephenville High School. “Coach Copeland and I were just talking about how the rivalry back then was so much more than it is now.”

Or perhaps it’s just different once you’ve been on the winning side of it for a while.


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Stephenville has won the last three meetings – including one in the playoffs – by an average margin of 41.3 points, and has won 11 of the last 13 dating back to 1999. But there was once a time when Brownwood won 23 straight from 1964 to 1987 before a tie in 1988, another Brownwood win in 1989 and finally a Stephenville win in 1990.

“I’m sure it meant a lot to beat them for different reasons back then,” said Winder. “It still means a lot to beat them, it just has a different feel to it. The big thing about this game is that we’re starting district and they have a really good football team that we’re going to have to be at our best against to have a chance to win.”

Brownwood began turning heads with an upset of Graham then solidified its status as a contender in Region I-4A Division I by beating Liberty Hill the following week. The only set back came against a good Alvarado team that also defeated Stephenville.

Brownwood has really rolled the last two weeks, dominating Burkburnett, 50-14, and Springtown, 72-28.

“They’ve got a couple running backs who are real quick and linebackers who are quick, then you have Coach Howard’s son (Conner Howard) and he’ll play all over the field. You’ll see him in the secondary and on special teams,” Winder says. “Their overall speed team wise is pretty fast.

“They’re good, they’re fast and their quarterback is playing really well and appears to get better each game,” Winder added. “They’re defense will bring people from all over the place and they are good back there in the secondary.”

Sounds like an apt description of a team now ranked No. 1 in the region by the Texas High School Coaches Association.

Stephenville is fresh off a bye week that Winder says came right on time for his football team.

“We needed the bye week and it was good or us. We got some kids healthy and were able to go out and have three good, hard days of practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” Winder said. “We got back to fundamentals – tackling, blocking, throwing and catching, and now here we are going into district and it’s for real.

“The rest of these games count, so you have to leave it all on the field every time you go out there.”

One guy Stephenville will go out there with is linebacker Mason Yoes, who missed the game at Alvarado with an injured shoulder.

“He’s good, he’s ready to go, and we need him,” said Winder. “He’s a big part of our defense.”

Yoes was a huge part of Stephenville limiting Everman star Kierre Crosley to 92 yards, making 12 tackles including three behind the line of scrimmage in a 10-7 Stephenville win. Yoes has 32 tackles, five of them for a loss, on the season.

“We’re pretty healthy and ready to go. It’s always an exciting time when you get district started,” Winder said.


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Especially against Brownwood. Even if it isn’t quite the same.

Winder has made the public appearance rounds, speaking to seemingly every civic club in town, as do most high school head coaches in Texas each year.

While speaking at Optimist Club, well known Stephenville resident Monty Bedwell poked at Winder and the rivalry, saying, “Coach, whatever you do, just make sure you beat Brownwood.”

It was in good jest and followed by a round of laughter and applause. Just as it is everywhere he speaks, Winder says.

“Someone always brings up beating Brownwood,” Winder says. “It might not be like it was in the good old days, so to speak, but everyone who is from Stephenville still wants to beat Brownwood.”

And you can bet everyone in Brownwood will be wanting to beat Stephenville this Friday.

“It’s homecoming and it’s Brownwood so I know there is going to be a big crowd and a lot of excitement on our side, and then they’ll bring a big crowd because they know they have a good football team and that’s how fans are. When you’re good, everyone wants to come see you.”

Especially in a rivalry game, a district game and a homecoming game.

It’s all rolled into one at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium.

“It’s going to be exciting, should be a great atmosphere,” Winder said. “It’s just good high school football.”

Friday is the 75th game in the Battle of 377, with Brownwood leading the series 44-28-2. Here’s a list of results by winner and score:

1937: Stephenville 7-0

1398: Tie 0-0

1939: Brownwood 27-0

1940: Stephenville 19-6

1941: Brownwood 20-13

1942: Stephenville 27-6

1943: Stephenville 27-6

1944: Brownwood 25-0

1945: Brownwood 28-14

1946: Brownwood 13-6

1947: Brownwood 6-0

1948: Stephenville 12-6

1949: Stephenville 33-12

1950: Stephenville 6-0

1951: Stephenville 33-14

1952: Brownwood 20-0

1953: Brownwood 45-12

1954: Brownwood 13-0

1955: Brownwood 47-0

1956: Stephenville 12-7

1957: Stephenville 26-6

1958: Brownwood 56-6

1959: Brownwood 56-0

1960: Brownwood 22-0

1961: Brownwood 39-0

1962: Brownwood 47-6

1963: Stephenville 12-6

1964: Brownwood 34-0

1965: Brownwood 33-0

1966: Brownwood 27-0

1969: Brownwood 13-8

1970: Brownwood 55-7

1971: Brownwood 48-7

1972: Brownwood 35-6

1973: Brownwood 48-0

1974: Brownwood 35-0

1975: Brownwood 28-12

1976: Brownwood 35-6

1977: Brownwood 38-7

1978: Brownwood 35-0

1979: Brownwood 38-0

1980: Brownwood 34-7

1981: Brownwood 36-0

1982: Brownwood 41-0

1983: Brownwood 36-0

1984: Brownwood 30-6

1985: Brownwood 14-12

1986: Brownwood 19-7

1987: Brownwood 62-0

1988: Tie 7-7

1989: Brownwood 63-21

1990: Stephenville 42-24

1991: Stephenville 13-9

1992: Brownwood 21-0

1993: Stephenville 30-7

1994: Stephenville 42-6

1995: Stephenville 50-9

1996: Brownwood 42-39

1997: Stephenville 31-21

1998: Brownwood 40-35

1999: Stephenville 28-14

2000: Stephenville 27-13

2001: Stephenville 17-7

2002: Stephenville24-21

2003: Brownwood 28-21

2004: Stephenville 52-31

2005: Stephenville 49-10

2008: Stephenville 31-28

2009: Stephenville 35-0

2010: Brownwood 49-16

2011: Stephenville 66-0

2013: Stephenville 49-10

2014: Stephenville 40-21

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