Outright district championship is fitting finish in 3-4A Division I

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With four interceptions including this one at Graham, Cole Pettit has played a big role in Stephenville yielding only 18.3 points after surrendering 39.4 over the first nine games last season. || Photo by DAVID FLYNN

By BRAD KEITH
TheFlashToday.com

STEPHENVILLE (November 10, 2017) — There was no real science to formulating the district schedule.

Greg Winder and Hugh Sandifer simply drew for positions like everyone else. The fact they drew lots that placed Stephenville and Abilene Wylie in a head’s up battle to end the regular season is sheer coincidence.

Or perhaps it was a gift from the football gods.

Two titans of Conference 4A, both started the year on fire before overcoming mid-season injuries and back-to-back losses. They returned to form in time for each to remain unbeaten in district games, setting the stage for an appropriate finish to the regular season,.

In 3-4A Division I, it all comes down to Stephenville and Wylie, with the winner standing alone as district champion. The opening kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium.

{Remember, Stephenville supporters, administrators ask you to not sit on the visitor’s side as there is limited seating due to stadium construction already in progress!}

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No doubt it’s the biggest home game for third-year head coach Greg Winder, who was promoted from offensive coordinator just in time to experience a lean year in 2015 and a very young team in 2016. But he’s the goth engines revving now, and a district title is within reach.

“This is what we’ve been working toward all year. We said when we started off-season that our goal is to win a district championship,” said Winder. “The kids are looking forward to it and the coaching staff is looking forward to it. We’re going to try and win us gold football, and I know they are thinking the same thing. It should make for great atmosphere.”

They each earned narrow victories over Brownwood to be in this position. Wylie persevered three overtimes in a 45-38 thriller against the Lions, while Stephenville held on 28-21 after building a three-touchdown lead in the first half.

While its offense has been prolific much of the year, it’s the defense that has been the biggest difference-maker for Stephenville, allowing three fewer touchdowns per game. They are yielding 18.3 points entering the final after surrendering 39.4 to this point last season.

Blue Caylor leads in tackles with 84, Pacen Parker has six sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss and Cole Pettit four interceptions, six passes defensed and a fumble recovery.

They need another good outing to slow the Bulldogs.

“They aren’t going to beat themselves. Coach Sandifer and his staff have been there forever and this team is very typical Abilene Wylie,” Winder cautions. “They are just solid. They don’t make many mistakes and when they need a big play they have a couple guys who can beat you.”

Gatlin Martin has three interceptions at cornerback and leads the Bulldogs in all receiving categories with 18 catches for 421 yards and seven touchdowns. Grant has rushed for 534 yards and seven scores, caught 15 passes for 170 yards and two TDs and has made 23 point-after kicks and three field goals.

Also key to the Wylie run game is Bailey Hicks – 10.7 yards per carry – and Brady Horn, 8.6.

Sam King doesn’t pass the ball a lot, but his completions tend to go for big yardage at 44-68 for 756 yards and 13 TDs. He has also been picked off three times.

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Stephenville has its own impressive numbers.

In seven games games plus a first quarter, Krece Nowak has rushed for 1,044 yards and 11 TDs while averaging 8.6 yards per carry. Gage Graham has been Mr. Versatility with 74 tackles – 50 of them solo – on defense, 15 receptions for 317 yards and four TDs on offense and big kickoff and punt returns to set up short fields opportunities for the offense to take big shots.

Easton Jones has had a stellar seven games at QB since recovering from a torn ligament in his throwing elbow. The third-year starter has passed for 1,614 yards and 18 TDs with just three picks and rushed for 227 yards and two scores. Blake Aragon has become the leading receiver with 27 grabs for 525 yards and five scores.

“You can look at it on paper all you want. You will keep seeing that we are similar teams and it should be a great football game,” says Winder. “It’s going to come down to execution, taking care of the ball and a couple big plays here and there.”

Sheer coincidence or not, in District 3-4A Division I, there could be no better final pairing than this.

WYLIE SEASON STATS (as reported by the Abilene Reporter-News)

STEPHENVILLE SEASON STATS (as part of area stats published weekly on TheFlashToday.com)

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