By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (December 4, 2017) — No Yellow Jackets have played more significant roles in the current Stephenville playoff run than Easton Jones and Krece Nowak.
Few Jackets, in fact, have ever posted numbers like the current backfield battery, hence their climb up the charts of great stat producers in school history. The battery is powering Stephenville to 423 yards and 40 points per game.
Nowak is 227 yards from topping the single-season school rushing mark of 1,853 set in 2009 by James Myles. The junior running back who next season should threaten the Stephenville career rushing record, has 1,627 yards after stinging previously undefeated Argyle for 156 and two TDs on the ground.
Nowak can chase career records as a senior next year. For Easton Jones, that time is now, and over the past four games he has climbed past Tyler Jones, no relation, and Jevan Snead in career passing yards.
Only Kelan Luker, with 8,297 yards passing from 1996-98 is left ahead of Jones, who currently has 7,315. Tyler Jones is third, having passed for 7,284 yards from 2010-12 before starting four seasons at Texas State. Snead, an Army All-American and later a Cotton Bowl winner with Mississippi, was bumped back to fourth at 6,854 from 2003-05. Luker played for SMU and ultimately finished his career at Tarleton State.
There was speculation Easton Jones would not play his senior season after the right-handed passer tore a ligament in his throwing elbow pitching in summer baseball. The Jones family elected to try stem cell therapy in hopes of avoiding Tommy John surgery, and their prayers were answered when he returned 105 days following the injury to help reel off 27 unanswered points in a victory over Everman.
Jones is 63.1 percent passing for 2,505 yards, 29 touchdowns and five interceptions this season. One of his favorite targets is Nowak with 34 catches for 506 yards and six TDs. The “Slippery Flea” has produced 2,133 yards of total offense on 242 touches.
Nine opponents have faced Jones and Nowak together in the backfield and the latter has rushed for more than 100 yards against six of them. Brownwood was most successful against the run, loading up to stop Nowak on the ground and force Jones to try beating them through the air.
The wheels of Nowak were indeed grinded to a virtual halt with just 30 yards on 15 carries. but challenging Jones to shoulder the load proved costly for the Lions to the tune of 16-22 passing for 409 yards and four scores on four consecutive first-half offensive snaps.
Brownwood closed the final margin to 28-21, joining Argyle as the only teams to come within a possession of the Yellow Jackets when Jones and Nowak are in the backfield together.
Stephenville is preparing for its 16th state quarterfinal appearance, set for 7 p.m. Friday at Fort Worth Chisholm Trail. The opponent is Wichita falls Hirschi, with whom they share five common opponents.
That means ample resources to prepare the backfield battery for its next weekly power surge, perhaps strong enough to re-write the record book while carrying this bunch of Yellow Jackets to the state semifinals, a destination reached by the program eight times before.