BY RUSSELL HUFFMAN
The Stephenville Yellow Jackets are ranked number three by the “bible” of football Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine which is hitting the shelves of stores statewide this week.
Stephenville is joining elite company once again after posting a 12-3 record last year and trail only Argyle (12-1) and defending state champion Carthage which was a perfect 16-0 in 2017.
It’s no surprise Stephenville is picked to win District 5-4A with league rankings going the Yellow Jackets, Waco La Vega, China Spring, Brownwood and Gatesville. A very interesting note about this new district is every team made the playoffs last season with both Stephenville and Waco La Vega finishing as state semifinalists and China Spring a regional semifinalist.
District 5-4A is also well represented in the magazine’s Preseason All-State roster with Stephenville’s running back Krece Nowak and linebacker Blu Caylor giving the Jackets recognition on both sides of the ball. It’s a huge honor as there are only 11 players on each side of the ball. There are no second teamers or honorable mentions and might serve as fuel for one particular player to shine even more than he has already.
Defensive back and wide receiver Gage Graham who was an all-state honorable mention last year and the player Stephenville’s head coach Greg Winder calls “The best player on this team!”
Coaches put a lot of stock in players who have sticky fingers on offense and ballhawk when they are on defense and Graham certainly fits the bill. In 2017, Nowak blistered defenses for 1,720 yards and 16 touchdowns while Caylor thumped 166 tackles and recorded ten sacks.
Graham’s totals were equally impressive with 676 yards receiving, six touchdowns, five interceptions and a couple fumble recoveries. Texas Football’s quote on Graham “Lives to pick off passes.”
Of course, football is a team sport and Texas Football also pointed out its players to watch which include offensive lineman Jacob Poston (all-state HM 2017), defensive lineman Pacen Parker (all-state HM 2017), defensive back and placekicker Chase Carrillio, quarterback Cole Stanley and linebacker Quentin Walker.
The magazine prospects list includes tight end and linebacker Zane Walker, wide receiver Kyle Lindsey (The Flash Today’s predicted breakout player of the year), offensive lineman Devon Roeming, defensive back Cody Storrs, offensive lineman Scott Gill, defensive lineman Dylan Garber, offensive lineman Lane York and offensive lineman Caleb Smith.