By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (Sept. 2, 2016) — There were 106 combined points and more than 1,300 total yards when Stephenville opened its season in Cleburne last Friday.
But the battle of Yellow Jackets still did not light up the scoreboard the way Springtown and Decatur did. Springtown dropped a 74-44 decision to Decatur in a game that featured 118 points. That’s roughly two touchdowns more than were scored in the high-voltage 66-40 loss suffered by Stephenville.
Now, Stephenville hosts Springtown in a bout expected to light up the scoreboards like a pinball machine once the ball leaves the tee at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tarleton Memorial Stadium.
“They have a great offense, a great quarterback,” said Stephenville head coach Greg Winder.
And yes, he’s talking bout Springtown, not reminiscing of Cleburne. He’s speaking of Springtown quarterback Caleb Chesney, who is actually bigger at 6-3, 205, than Cleburne quarterback Tre’Veon Bradley, who rushed for 423 yards and five touchdowns against Stephenville last week.
Chesney is not the same type of quarterback. He’s a full half second slower than Bradley in the 40-yard dash, but he is also a much more polished passer, throwing for more than 2,300 yards and 29 touchdowns a season ago.
“It’s a different type of quarterback, but it’s another quarterback who is a very good football player,” said Winder. “We have to play better fundamental football on that side of the ball. We have to read our keys, and we have to tackle better than we did last Friday.”
Winder agreed tackling better will happen by default when it isn’t Bradley, who has verbally committed – as an “athlete” not a quarterback – to TCU, running with the ball.
“We won’t be chasing that cat each week, I know that,” Winder said. “But regardless who we’re playing, we have to be solid and we have to use good technique in tackling.”
Winder did like some things he saw on both sides of the ball against Cleburne, particularly, of course, from an offense that rang up 40 points.
“We did a lot of good things offensively and I think we showed the ability to score from anywhere on the field,” said the second-year head coach. “We just have to avoid all the penalties and turnovers that we had.”
Indeed. Cleburne scored 28 points off turnovers, and an offensive pass interference wiped out a Stephenville touchdown.
But the positives included junior quarterback Easton Jones passing for 308 yards and rushing for 95 and sophomore running back Krece Nowak gaining 164 yards on the ground and another 102 through the air. Senior Cameron Frazier has become a utility standout, rushing for three short touchdowns out of the goal line offense and hauling in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Jones.
Now Stephenville brings its offensive firepower and plans for an improved defensive performance, to its home field for the first time this season.
“It’s always fun for these kids and for the whole community really to be at home,” Winder said. “The first home game each year is always a fun one.”
Stephenville has had some wild home openers in recent years. In 2011, the Jackets erased two 17-point deficits to beat Aledo on a field goal at the buzzer. In 2012, Stephenville was upset by Monterrey Tech, Mexico, then turned around a week later and raced past Aledo to start a 13-game win streak that carried the Jackets all the way to their fifth state title in program history.
This home opener could also be fun. And high scoring.
“Springtown has a good team, especially on the offensive side of the ball,” Winder warned again. “They just didn’t score enough points to keep up with Decatur, which has a very good team.”
He hopes it’s the same story for Springtown this week.
Which would mean celebration time under the hometown lights for Stephenville.