By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (October 23, 2015) — For all the trials Stephenville has been through this season, the initial and primary goal of any team is still there and still quite achievable.
The Yellow Jackets can still reach the playoffs.
With a win tonight, they will make the playoffs. A one-game advantage over Big Spring plus owning the head-to-head tiebreaker would clinch a spot in the postseason for Stephenville regardless what happens in the regular season finale at Abilene Wylie.
Stephenville and Big Spring kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday on Senior Night at Memorial Stadium.
Of course, the stakes for Big Spring are exactly the same. It’s win and you’re in, lose and you aren’t going to make it.
Stephenville lost its fourth straight for the first time since 1987 last week, but the Yellow Jackets did show promise in the second half, outscoring Snyder 28-0 to almost climb out of a 31-point halftime hole at intermission. Snyder held on, 45-42.
“We played really well in the second half. We got better and that’s what we have to continue to do,” said first-year head coach Greg Winder. “We tried to bottle up everything that was positive in the second half and build off it this week, because if we can play like that over four quarters instead of two, we’ll be pretty tough to beat.”
Much like Stephenville, Big Spring is a much different team than the one the Jackets had three shootouts against – two of them in the playoffs, both won by Stephenville – in the last three years.
“They’re a totally different team this year without (Tobyn) Tannehill (at quarterback) and some other guys offensively,” said Winder. “They still have a great running back (Preston Alexander) and they have a quarterback who also plays linebacker who is their best football player. They’re more of a running team after being more of a passing team last year, so they’re a lot different.
Winder made some personnel moves last week, utilizing a handful of defensive players on offense, as well. Mason Yoes played running back before leaving with a concussion, Zoey Kendall and Jon Clark Giddings saw action receiver and even Garrett Crew played some on the offensive side.
Yoes has been cleared to play, and Winder said he and the other players will continue to see action on both sides Friday.
“Doing that definitely brought some energy to our team, and we’ll continue to do it,” said Winder. “Those guys are excited to be going both ways and getting to play some offense and they have brought a real spark to our team.”
A spark Winder hopes is enough to spark a playoff flame.
“We just have to execute and take care of the ball. We can’t score points for the other team like we did with turnovers in the first half last week,” said Winder. “We just have to play the way I know we’re capable of.”
Even if its pouring rain.
“You have to be careful not to overplay the weather. You just have to focus on executing and doing the things you have to do to win,” Winder said. “When we get out there and see what it’s doing at game time we may adjust a little depending on how hard it’s coming down, but the basic execution is still the same. You have to have that to win whether it’s raining or not.”
Especially with a playoff spot on the line.
“Nothing has been taken away from us yet,” said Winder. “It’s all still out there, we just have to take care of business and make it happen.”