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FALL FOOTBALL GUIDE 2019 Yellow Jackets taking flight with new head coach

Texans hoping to repeat magical 12-1 season

A publication of the Stephenville Empire-Tribune


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Saturday, August 24, 2019

SHS preparing for excellence under former Jacket Doty 5A schools.

By Mark Wilson mwilson@empiretribune.com

Sterling Doty knows as well as anyone what Stephenville Yellow Jackets championship football is all about, and he’s back to help carry on the tradition. In fact, he will tell you that he bleeds blue and gold. Doty played center on the back-to-back (19981999) state championship teams at SHS before going on to play for the University of Houston, where he was a first-team all-conference performer. He was hired after the 2018 season to fill the position as SHS head coach after the resignation of Greg Winder. Winder had led the Jackets to the second round of the playoffs with a 7-4 record in his fourth season as head coach. Doty had been the head coach of Class 5A Division I Magnolia the past four years. “It’s just a great community, a great place to raise your kids, and I am blessed to raise my family here, blessed to be back here along with my coaching staff and I know they all feel the same way. We just love what we’re doing,” Doty said recently. “I think you definitely have jobs that if you see them come open, they’re going to pull at you and this one was definitely the job that I was going to leave for. I really wasn’t looking to leave Magnolia. “But the opportunity to come back here and be a Stephenville Yellow Jacket, to bleed blue and gold, you know, that’s something you never lose. To follow in the footsteps of some great men that have shaped me, from every assistant coach to every head coach that I had, you know, some of the legends that have been a part of Stephenville athletics, it was just an opportunity that was too good to pass up.” Doty would love nothing better than to be the coach that brings home a sixth state football championship to Stephenville and expand on the winning culture he’s immersed in once again. “We’re just extremely blessed to live here in the city of champions, and just be a part of a great community, great school district, and just be around people that strive for excellence in their daily lives,” Doty said.” The team outlook has to include a mention of the

SHS VARSITY FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Aug. 30 Argyle 7 p.m. Sept. 6 Everman 7 p.m. Sept. 13x Abilene Wylie 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at Midlothian Heritage 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at Georgetown 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 Open Oct. 11* at China Spring 7 p.m. Oct. 18*# Waco La Vega 7 p.m. Oct. 25*+ Brownwood 7 p.m. Nov. 1* at Gatesville 7 p.m. Nov. 9 Open * — District 5-4A Division I games. x — Homecoming. # — Heart of Gold game. + — Senior Night.

DEFENSE

Sterling Doty

large class of 30 senior varsity players who graduated in May, which included numerous veteran standouts across the board on both offense and defense. This year’s squad features four offensive and four defensive players who have starting experience among a dozen returning lettermen. In Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine’s summer preseason poll, Stephenville was picked second in District 5-4A Division I behind defending state champion Waco La Vega, which is picked as the state’s No. 1 team in Division I. China Spring was picked to be third in the district, followed by Brownwood and Gatesville. The Jackets have the same opponents on their nine-game schedule as last year, so the challenge will be just a daunting. The non-district slate starts Aug. 30 at home against Argyle, which was third in Dave Campbell’s preseason 4A Division I rankings. The schedule also includes fifth-ranked Midlothian Heritage on Sept. 20. The other three non-district foes — Georgetown, Everman and Abilene Wylie — are Class

JV BLUE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Aug. 29 at Argyle 7 p.m. Sept. 5 at Everman 6 p.m. Sept. 12 at Abilene Wylie 6 p.m. Sept. 19 Midlothian Heritage 6 p.m. Sept. 26 Georgetown 6 p.m. Oct. 3 Abilene Cooper 6 p.m. Oct. 10 China Spring 6:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at Waco La Vega 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at Brownwood 7 p.m. Oct. 31 Gatesville 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 Open

“We’re very excited about our War Dog defense this year,” Doty said. “Our front seven is really flying around. That’s probably the most experience that we’ve got coming back on the whole football team is going to come from our defensive line and our linebackers. Those kids are tough and hard-nosed and really believe in our 4-2-5 scheme. “We don’t have just a ton of size up front, but what we’ve got is a lot of kids that are fast and physical and have great technique that really are going to be able to get after the quarterback in passing situations and be able to stuff the run within our scheme.” The defensive secondary will have some players who will be needed to play key roles on offense as well, but Doty seems encouraged by their defensive coverage skills. “We play the football as good as any other group that I’ve been around as far as when the ball’s in the air, relating to the receivers and going to find them,” Doty said. Key veteran players who will counted on to solidify the defensive front seven — players Doty called “bell cows” — will include end Austin Stidham, tackle Daniel Luna, and linebackers Quentin Walker and Colton Accomazzo (moving from end this season). Accomazzo had played end last season. Cornerbacks Gavin Rountree and Cole Stanley, along with strong safety Trace Morrison and free safety Grayson Traweek are expected to be the starters in the secondary. “I think we can have a great year on defense,” Doty said. “It comes from their hard work and the experience that they have on Friday night, coming back, so we’re ready to go and make some new memories this year and we’re looking forward to challenging the toughest schedule in the state of Texas.” Morrison turned in an outstanding job as the team’s

FRESHMAN A FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Aug. 29 at Argyle 5:30 p.m. Sept. 5 Everman 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 Abilene Wylie 6:30 p.m. Sept. 19 Midlothian Heritage 6:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at Georgetown 7 p.m. Oct. 3 Open Oct. 10 China Spring 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at Waco La Vega 5 p.m. Oct. 24 at Brownwood 5:30 p.m. Oct. 31 Gatesville 5:30 p.m. Nov. 7 Open

SEE JACKETS, 14

FRESHMAN B FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Aug. 29 at Argyle 4 p.m. Sept. 5 Everman 5 p.m. Sept. 12 Abilene Wylie 5 p.m. Sept. 19 Midlothian Heritage 5 p.m. Sept. 26 at Georgetown 5:30 p.m. Oct. 3 Open Oct. 10 Dublin 4 p.m. Oct. 17 at Dublin 5 p.m. Oct. 24 at Brownwood 4 p.m. Oct. 31 Gatesville 4 p.m. Nov. 7 Open


Saturday, August 24, 2019

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Fall Football Guide 2019

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MARK WILSON/ E-T

The Stephenville Yellow Jackets 2019 Varsity Football Team.

www.vborthopaedics.com

254.968.0292

351 E. Tarleton St. Stephenville, TX. 76401


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OFFENSE

Jackets’ QB battle making Renfro, Stanley better

By Rick Mauch Special to the Empire-Tribune

Being the starting quarterback on any team is a spotlight position. Being the starting quarterback for the Stephenville Yellow Jackets takes that to a higher level. The program has turned out a plethora of quarterbacks who led the Jackets to great success, including five state championships since 1993. Many of those have gone on to success at the highest level of college and even in the professional ranks. But who will be the starting signal caller when the Jackets take the field at home on Aug. 30 to open the season against Argyle? The battle is between Kade Renfro and Cole Stanley. Both are seniors. “We’re going to be in good hands, no matter who is the starting quarterback,” first-year Jackets head coach Sterling Doty said. “Both have felt that pressure, and both have prepared for this since last season.” Renfro threw for 1,768 yards and 13 touchdowns a year ago opposite nine

Cole Stanley

interceptions in eight games. Stanley, who only played four games due to injury, passed for 723 yards with four TD and a pair of interceptions. Stanley also rushed for 82 yards and a pair of scores

Kade Renfro

in limited time. “Kade has a great arm, accurate cannon, and an ability to put the ball down and run, which is going to be an asset, his ability to get out of trouble with his

legs,” Doty said. “Cole is a jack of all trades. He’s got a demeanor that speaks through his actions. People follow him. “And both understand only one will get to play quarterback on Aug. 30.” Stanley also saw action in nine games at quarterback backing up Easton Jones in the Jackets’ run to the 2017 state semifinals, completing seven of 10 passes for 181 yards and a pair of TD. He also caught a touchdown pass. In addition, he plays the cornerback position, showing his versatility. “I love to do whatever is going to give us a W,” Stanley said. Both players, who are also good friends, are supportive of the other in the quarterback battle. Whomever gets the starting nod, the other will be their biggest cheerleader, they said. “Absolutely, I support Kade, and competition is great. It’s awesome to have somebody great pushing you every day,” Stanley said. “Having a guy come in with that kind of energy and that kind of talent is alSEE OFFENSE, 11

DEFENSE

Walker, Stidham aiming to uphold SHS tradition By Rick Mauch Special to the Empire-Tribune

The Stephenville Yellow Jackets graduated seven starters from its defense last season, a defense that played a key role in the team advancing to the second round of the postseason. The returning starting talent, however, is solid, said first-year SHS head coach Sterling Doty. And anchoring the defense are seniors Austin Stidham at end and Quentin Walker at linebacker. “They’ve got to be leaders when things are going right or wrong,” Doty said. Walker is the top returning tackler from a year ago. Of his 100 tackles, 65 were solo, with 18 for a loss, and 6.5 sacks. He also had an interception, fumble recovery, and forced two fumbles. Stidham posted 37 tackles, including a dozen for a loss. He registered four sacks and forced a pair of fumbles. Both said that they realize for the defense to be even better than last season, they are going to have to raise their already impressive level of play. In fact,

Austin Stidham

Quentin Walker

Walker said his goals for the season are “More tackles, more sacks, more interceptions, more of everything. Whatever has to be done to help us win.” Stidham added, “Even if I don’t put up better numbers and we’re winning

games, it’s OK with me.” But Doty expects great things out of the duo, including helping the less inexperienced players mature faster. “They’ve been out there under the lights. They understand that first time

pressure. That’s something you can’t go down to Walmart and purchase, that Friday night experience,” Doty said. Their leadership will extend off the field as well, the coach said. “So much of what we do and expect from our guys, the dress code, sitting up front in class. We’re here to gain knowledge. These two know that so well, and they’ll be leading the way when it comes to bringing others along,” he said. Stidham said communication will be a key for he and Walker when it comes to leading the defense — and not just with each other. “We’re going to have to communicate very well,” Stidham said. “When you see somebody with their head down, go pick them up. We’re a team, a family.” Along with their jobs on defense, the two are sometimes called upon to help on offense, mostly to block. Stidham is also a fullback and Walker a tight end. “Our job is providing a spark for the offense and defense,” Stidham said.

SEE DEFENSE, 11


Saturday, August 24, 2019

STEPHENVILLE EMPIRE-TRIBUNE

Fall Football Guide 2019

A look ahead to Stephenville’s 2019 opponents

play the Cougars were only 1-3, tied with Brownwood and Gatesville behind La Vega and SHS. Brayden Faulkner, a quarterback who passed for 1,965 yards and 12 TDs in 2018, will have to be kept under control. The same can be said for wide receiver K.J. Peoples, who is back after snagging 73 passes for 853 yards and five TDs last season.

By Mark Wilson mwilson@empiretribune.com

NON-DISTRICT GAMES Aug. 30 — Argyle at Stephenville, 7 p.m. Last year’s score — Argyle 45, SHS 35. Argyle outlook — The Eagles won their first 13 games in 2018 before falling in the fourth round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs. They went into the 2018 season opener against Stephenville carrying the state’s No. 1 preseason ranking before posting a 10-point victory over the Jackets. Argyle’s returning crew and recent reputation as one of the top programs in the state resulted in a No. 3 preseason ranking by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine. The Eagles won the District 7-4A Division I title a year ago, and are expecting to have 34 lettermen returning. Senior quarterback Bo Hogeboom will again be a key player after throwing for 3,366 yards and 44 touchdowns last season. Running back Tito Byce scored 26 TDs and had more than 1,500 yards rushing. Sept. 6 — Everman at Stephenville, 7 p.m. Last year’s score — SHS 41, Everman 16. Everman outlook — The Bulldogs are coming off a 5-6 season in which they reached the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs. They earned the fourth playoff spot out of District 5-5A. There are only four returning starters in all, including just one on defense, out of 25 varsity veterans. A key offensive performer could be junior quarterback Juan Davis, who made a mark as a receiver gaining 546 yards snd scoring seven TDs last season. The Bulldogs are picked to finish fifth in their district this year.  Sept. 13 — Abilene Wylie at Stephenville (homecoming), 7 p.m. Last year’s score — SHS 41, Wylie 28. Wylie outlook — Coach Hugh Sandifer’s Bulldogs are coming off an almost unfathomable disaster, losing all 10 of their games in 2018 after moving into the Class 5A Division II ranks for the first time. That ended Wylie’s 24-year streak of making the playoffs. The Bulldogs are still led by Hugh Sandifer, one of the winningest high school football coaches in Texas history with 283 victories in his first 32 seasons. Wylie — a former district foe of the Yellow Jackets — had won three consecutive district titles in Class 4A before moving up to the 5A Division I classification before the 2018 season. The 2016 Bulldogs reached the Class 4A Division I state championship game.  Brodey Baker will be one player Wylie will be counting on to bounce back, as a two-way standout at tight end and linebacker. Only two offensive and two defensive starters are expected back for Wylie. Sept. 20 — Stephenville at Midlothian Heritage, 7:30 p.m. Last year’s score — Heritage 26, SHS 21. Heritage outlook — The Jaguars were picked by Dave

5

Campbell’s Texas Football magazine as the fifth-best Class 4A Division I school in the state in its 2019 preseason rankings. Quarterback Landon Ledbetter is no longer around to terrorize defenses, but the Jaguars still have plenty of talent. They are coming off an 11-2 season, when they earned a berth in the regional semifinals. Heritage had to come from behind to edge the Yellow Jackets last season, as Ledbetter threw a 66-yard TD pass with under three minutes left in the game. Wide receiver Jay Wilkerson, with 1,287 yards and 19 TDs last season, is one of the top returning players on offense. The defense is anchored by linebacker Konnor Jones, who recorded 116 tackles last season. Sept. 27 — Stephenville at Georgetown, 7 p.m. Last year’s score — SHS 48, Georgetown 8. Georgetown outlook — The Yellow Jackets crushed the Class 5A Division I Eagles, who were previously unbeaten — forcing five turnovers and scoring twice on defense. Georgetown went on to post a 9-4 season record and finished the year as a regional playoff semifinalist. The Jaguars have seven offensive starters and six defensive starters returning. R.J. Moreno, a running back who had 423 yards and five TDs last year, should have a stout offensive line opening holes. The top quarterback candidate, Darson Herman, is a sophomore. Defensive strengths should be seen on the defensive line, along with linebacker Taylor Behl. DISTRICT 5-4A DIV. I GAMES Oct. 11 — Stephenville at China Spring, 7 p.m. Last year’s score — SHS 21, China Spring 14. China Spring outlook — China Spring led the Yellow Jackets in last year’s matchup 14-13 in the fourth quarter. But with about six minutes left in that game, Krece Nowak caught a screen pass from quarterback Kade Renfro that went for a game-winning 75-yard TD. The Cougars are picked by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine to finish third in the District 5-4A alignment, behind Waco La Vega and Stephenville. There are five offensive and six defensive staters expected back for China Spring, which posted a 6-6 record while reaching the area round of the playoffs. In district

Oct. 18 — Waco La Vega at Stephenville (Heart of Gold Game), 7 p.m. Last year’s score — La Vega 32, SHS 15. La Vega outlook — The Pirates finished 2018 with a 14-2 season record as they beat Liberty Hill 35-21 in the state championship game. Seven starters were lost to graduation on defense, but there are eight starters expected back on offense. La Vega swept all four district games last season, and are picked to repeat as the champion of District 5-4A Division I, ahead of Stephenville. The offensive talents of quarterback quarterback Ara Rauls and running back Jar’Quae Walton should once again be difficult to handle. Rauls passed for 1,267 yards and nine TDs, while Walton had 1,625 yards and 17 TDs rushing. On defense, linebacker DeMarrquese Hayes was credited with 152 tackles, and defensive end De’Treveon Thompson had nine quarterback sacks.

Oct. 25 — Brownwood at SHS (Senior Night), 7 p.m. Last year’s score — SHS 45, Brownwood 20. Brownwood outlook — Sammy Burnett, starting his second year as the Lions’ head coach, led them to a playoff berth in 2018 despite losing three of their four District 5-4A Division I contests. The Lions were 4-6 overall, and were tied with Gatesville and China Spring at 1-3 in district behind La Vega and Stephenville. The Lions have five offensive and five defensive starters returning, but quarterback Tommy Bowden was among the 22 graduation losses. The group of 16 returning starters features speedy track standout A.J. McCarty at receiver and in the defensive secondary. McCarty has committed to play football at Baylor, where he is expected to play cornerback. A new addition to the roster is quarterback Drew Huff, who transferred from Mineral Wells when his father, Jeff Huff, was hired as an assistant coach with the Lions. Brownwood has not won a district football championship since 2010. Nov. 1 — SHS at Gatesville, 7 p.m. Last year’s score — SHS 31, Gatesville 3. Gatesville outlook — The numbers indicate the Hornets may have a challenging season ahead of them, with just three offensive and two defensive starters returning from a 2018 squad that lost seven of its 10 games. The Hornets said goodbye to 28 seniors. Gatesville was 1-3 in district and finished in a threeway tie with Brownwood and China Spring behind La Vega and Stephenville. The Hornets will be counting on the talents of end Luke Gregory on defense, along with two-way linemen Stephen Fitzer and Waylon Jones. 


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Fall Football Guide 2019

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MARK WILSON/ E-T

The Stephenville Yellow Jackets 2019 Junior Varsity Football Team.

Vasara Photography

The Stephenville Yellow Jackets 2019 Freshman Football Team.


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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Stephenville Yellow Jackets Varsity Football Players

Kade Renfro

Cole Stanley

Grayson Trawekk

Alexander Barba

Colton Accomazzo

Gavin Rountree

Austin Stidham

Eduardo Campos

Bryson Dill

Trace Morrison

Kreed Averhoff

Kason Phillips

Coy Eakin

Harrison Barkley

Caden Cowan

Dillon Schumann

John Rex Haile

Quentin Walker

Asher Dittfurth

Daniel Luna

Damian Meza

Caleb Smith

Zach Ramos

Hunter Drake

Adrian Montano

Adrian Cervantes

Logan Davis

Christian Martin

Ricardo Chavez

Hunter Seeman

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Fall Football Guide 2019

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PHOTO BY JEREMY ENLOW

The Tarleton State University 2019 Football Team.

Tarleton State University’s football team now has everyone’s attention By Mark Wilson mwilson@empiretribune.com

Todd Whitten

Tarleton State University’s football team now has everyone’s attention. The 2018 Texans recorded their most successful season ever — winning the first 12 games last year and reaching the third round of the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Texans were only picked to finish

fifth among the nine Lone Star Conference teams a year ago, coming off a 6-6 season. Coach Todd Whitten’s crew caught fire to win TSU’s first outright LSC football crown and reached the NCAA Division II quarterfinal playoff round, peaking at No. 6 in the national rankings. The Texans even led top-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato 10-0 going

into the fourth quarter of that snowbound Super Region 4 Championship matchup. With a second-half snowstorm bogging down the Texans’ balanced but high-octane offense, Minnesota State plowed ahead and posted a 13-10 triumph. SEE TEXANS, 13

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One more time: Texans set with Holmes back at QB By Rick Mauch Special to the Empire-Tribune

The Tarleton State University football team will have a familiar face at quarterback this season. It’s the same as last season. Ben Holmes was granted one more year of eligibility by the NCAA in the nick of time before the season begins on Sept. 7 at Stephen F. Austin. Holmes, who was a senior last season, was granted an extra redshirt year of eligibility. He missed part of a season in 2016 after the death of his mother while he was at Nassau Community, where he was a Junior College All-American. Holmes redshirted and was on the Texans’ practice squad in 2017 after his transfer from Nassau. In his only previous season at quarterback for the Texans, Holmes led them to a school record for victories with a 12-1 record and an appearance in the 2018 NCAA Division II quarterfinals. They finished ranked No. 5 in the nation and won the team’s first outright Lone Star Conference championship. “He’s just a really good QB,” TSU head coach Todd Whitten said. “He played so well last year. I thought he was the heart and soul of our offense. We’re very thankful that he’s getting another year of eligibility.”

TSU SPORTS INFORMATION

Ben Holmes is returning for one final season as Tarleton State University’s starting quarterback, coming off an incredible 12-1 season.

Holmes was named second-team AllLSC last season, along with being voted the Texans’ Team MVP by his teammates. “Feels great. The main thing is I want to finish what I started here with my

BigDreamsStart WinningTraditions.

team,” Holmes said of being able to come back for one final season. “I was real nervous. But everybody around me said just keep praying on it, and that’s what we did.”     Holmes completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,659 yards with 28 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.  His touchdown passes are the second most ever for a Tarleton quarterback in a single season. The top spot in that stat category is still held by Cliff Watkins, the current Glen Rose High School head coach, who threw for 29 scores with the Texans in 2003. Holmes also rushed for 501 yards,  with a 5.6 average per carry, along with a pair of touchdowns. With Holmes at the helm, the Texans offense set team records for most rushing yards (4,031), total offense (6,709), touchdowns (79), points (585), rushing attempts (690), offensive plays (977), and first downs (301). While Texans fans are a little more confident with Holmes’ return, it wasn’t as though the cupboard was bare.  Junior college transfers Daveon Boyd and Cameron Burston were set to battle for the starting job, and should certainly be capable backups for Holmes.  At Blinn College last season as a sophomore, Boyd passed for 1,755 yards and 19 touchdowns, along with rushing for 221 yards and two scores. Burson, in two seasons at Contra Costa College in California, threw 49 touchdowns and rushed for over 900 yards. “There aren’t too many bad things about having too many quarterbacks, but only

Saturday, August 24, 2019

TARLETON STATE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Sept. 7 at Stephen F. Austin 6 p.m. Sept. 14 Doane University 6 p.m. Sept. 21x West Texas A&M 6 p.m. Sept. 28x at UT-Permian Basin 6 p.m. Oct. 5x Angelo State 6 p.m. Oct. 12x at Eastern New Mexico 7 p.m. Oct. 19x* A&M-Commerce 6 p.m. Oct. 26x at A&M-Kingsville 7 p.m. Nov. 2x# Midwestern State 2 p.m. Nov. 9 at William Jewell 1 p.m. Nov. 16x at Western New Mexico 1 p.m. All times are CST. * — Homecoming. # — Military Appreciation Game. x — Lone Star Conference games.

one can play,” Whitten said. “Competition is good. It’s better to have too many than too few.” As for the future of the position, former Stephenville quarterback Easton Jones, a freshman, figures to be in the mix. While Easton will likely redshirt this season, Whitten is optimistic about his future. “We should be able to grow Easton up, and that’s what you want,” Whitten said. “He’s a good passer, and he can move his feet.” Whitten also likes Easton’s toughness. He came back from an elbow injury in 2017 to lead Stephenville High to the state semifinals. “He fought back from injury and led his team to a great season, that’s very impressive,” Whitten said. “They all possess good leadership qualities,” he continued. “The passing part is down my list. I’m looking for kids who can move the team and find a way to win.”

Make ThemHappen! www.united-cs.com

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The Lingleville Cardinals 2019 Football Team.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

OFFENSE

CONTINUED FROM 4

ways a great thing,” Renfro said. “We make each other work harder.” The Jackets’ 7-on-7 squad advanced to the state tournament this past summer. Renfro said that was important as the offense returns only four starters — one of those being junior wide receiver Gavin Rountree, who is also the third-string quarterback. “The whole wide receiving corps has developed. We’re all on the same page,” Renfro said. “I think it was critical to get out

DEFENSE

CONTINUED FROM 4

“It’s fun playing fullback in certain formations.” And, as with any player who has come through the Stephenville football program, they understand the tradition that accompanies

STEPHENVILLE EMPIRE-TRIBUNE

there and learn the plays (in the summer) with the new offense we installed. Seven-on-seven is especially good for the outside receivers.” Whether it’s Renfro or Stanley behind center for the season’s first snap, both understand the tradition they are carrying on. The Yellow Jackets are one of the premier programs in the state and nation at their level, with state championships in 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2012. That tradition, Renfro said, will help the younger players mature quicker. “Just going out there on Friday nights, seeing the

fans in the stands. Guys have to grow up quick when they get on the varsity — you are a Stephenville Yellow Jacket,” he said. “It goes beyond football. It’s how we need to carry ourselves,” Stanley said. “We’re representing something great.” Doty said that understanding is a big part of why he feels comfortable with his offense in the hands of either Renfro or Stanley. “For both, it comes back to leadership, taking our team good times and bad,” Doty said. “Both are poised. They have a drive to be great. They’re both great leaders.”

being a Yellow Jacket. Five state championships since 1993, the most recent being 2012, does that. Both Stidham and Walker were solid contributors two years ago as sophomores when the Jackets made a run to the state semifinals. “It’s going to be huge,

playing fast with Stephenville pride,” Stidham said of the role that tradition could play this season. “It means the world, being out there with your brothers,” Walker said. “Upholding a tradition that has been around a long time, creating our own place.”

Fall Football Guide 2019

TERMINATE OPPONENTS LIKE WE

EX-TERMINATE PESTS

HAVE A GREAT SEASON!

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Four-year starters, friends help revive Tarleton State football By Rick Mauch Special to the Empire-Tribune

Noah Perez, Brant Bailey, and Devin Hafford came to Tarleton State University as freshmen with a goal to help return the football program to prominence. Now, as seniors, the trio is leading the charge as the Texans follow up the best season in team history. They are also the only players on the squad to be starters in each of their seasons in the program. “It’s hard to believe,” Perez, a center from Stephenville, said of the 2018 season. “I’m sure down the road I’ll take a breath when I reflect on what we built.” The Texans are coming off a 12-1 season that saw them go 8-0 in the Lone Star Conference, capturing the championship. They advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II quarterfinals, the deepest postseason run ever for the team, setting a program record for wins in a single season. The team also set a program for rushing by becoming the first team in school history to rush for over 4,000 yards in a single

season and have the first pair of 1,000-yard rushing teammates (Xavier Turner and Daniel McCants). “It was awesome. I told Brant Bailey myself from Day One that our mindset was to be the best team that’s ever been here,” said Bailey, a tight end from Eastland. “I take a lot of pride, but I don’t take it for granted,” said Hafford, a defensive back from Atascocita. Perez anchored an offensive line that opened the way for a rushing attack that averaged 310 yards per game, along with blocking for another 206 passing yards on average. Bailey, who mostly blocked, did average 9 yards on each of the five passes he caught during the season. Hafford posted 34 tackles and had four interceptions for a defense that allowed opponents to complete just 49 percent of their passes.

“It’s really uncommon to have three four-year starters on the same team. These kids have basically played every game since 2016. Devin Hafford They’re well experienced, and they know how to win,” Texans head coach Todd Whitten said. “They’re three guys who are our hardest workers, they’re great in academics, and they’re great leaders. “They display the highest level of leadership out there. I’ve watched them grow up in this program.” Perez said he understands that there is more to be done if the Texans are to build on last season’s success. Though the team lost a number of seniors who were critical to that great season, he said that he and his fellow four-year starters are ready to do even more. “We’re definitely going to have

to be leaders more than ever this season,” Perez said. “We’re going to have such a target on our backs, so we know we’ve got to go out and Noah Perez prove it still. But we have the ability to beat anyone.” Most folks agree with Perez, which is why the Texans are the favorites in most polls to repeat as LSC champions. Perez said the accomplishments are even more special being accomplished in front of his family and friends in the town in which he grew up. “It’s cool to have support from my hometown,” he said. “I love it here. This was a great opportunity I was given.” Whitten said those three veteran players understand that their leadership is more than what they do on the field. “Vocal leaders, that’s just one part. These three have truly

led by example,” Whitten said. “They’re always ready to play, regardless of the circumstances. “And they’re humble. They come from good families. It helps you understand how we were able to win 12 games last year. “Off the field, their behavior is a roadmap as to how it’s supposed to be done. The community embraces kids like that.” Though the trio has already created a legacy for themselves, Bailey said they want to add to it this season. “People are going to rely on us even more, and we all three expect to go out on top” Bailey said. And many years from now, when they’ve all graduated and gone their separate ways in life, their success as Texans will be the tie that binds them. They’ll raise a glass often when together, remembering their accomplishments and the mark they left on the program. “They’re my brothers. I’ll do anything for them, and them for me,” Perez said. “We’ve seen the hard times, and now we’re going to remember the good times.”


Saturday, August 24, 2019

TEXANS

CONTINUED FROM 9

Whitten said he had been confident last year’s team was better than that preseason sixth-place prediction. “I think as a coaching staff, we knew this time of year going into camp that we had a chance to be really good,” Whitten told the E-T recently. “Now, we had no idea what kind of quarterback play we were going to get. Ben (quarterback Ben Holmes) was a really nice surprise, the way that he showed up and played well through camp and just had a great season. “We really thought we could be really solid on defense and we were. And we thought all the other pieces were sort of in place on the offensive side.” TSU closed out the 2018 season with its best football record ever, at 12-1. “It’s one of the best years I’ve been a part of as a coach,” Whitten said. “I was so proud of our seniors, all of our players, coaches alike, everybody. They played well every Saturday, re-

STEPHENVILLE EMPIRE-TRIBUNE

ally. We didn’t have a letdown all year. To go through the Lone Star Conference undefeated is just about unheard of.”   Boosted by that 2018 performance, the Texans are No. 4 in the nation in the 2019 preseason rankings published by D2Sports. And when the dust cleared in this year’s preseason LSC voting, TSU was picked to win the 2019 conference championship.  There are 47 returning lettermen for the Texans, and Whitten sees relatively few problem areas entering this season. “We had a really good senior and junior class a year ago,” he said. “We have a lot of returning starters, so that would lend itself to us, I think, the main reason we were picked to win the conference. This team is a fast team. We’ll see how well we come together and how well we play, but we have plenty of speed. And that’s a good place to start.” OFFENSE Replacing four key starting offensive linemen will be one of the most pressing tasks.  “That’s the piece of the puzzle

that’s going to need the most attention,” Whitten said. “We had four seniors graduate a year ago, so we’ve got some holes to fill there. We made some progress during spring ball, but all of those jobs are up for grabs.” The Texans scored an average of 45 points a game last season, sixth-best among all of Division II. They were fifth in average total offensive yards per contest, at 516. The key returning core players on offense includes, among many others, Holmes, plus 1,000-yard rusher Daniel McCants along with wideout Zimari Manning, who led the LSC with 12 TD receptions. Manning paced the team with 947 yards receiving on 44 catches. Holmes threw 28 touchdown passes last season, completing 58 percent of his passes for 2,59 yards. Last season’s running back combination of Xavier Turner and McCants gave the Texans the nation’s third-best team rushing total. The 2018 campaign marked the first time in school history the Texans have had two

1,000-yard rushers in the same season. Turner led the team with 1,469 yards on 228 carries, and a team-leading 22 rushing touchdowns as a senior. Turner had signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals, but was later waived. He was signed in early August by the Seattle Seahawks. WORKING HARDER McCants was second on TSU’s squad with 1,141 yards a year ago, but his average on his 157 carries gave him a team-high 7.3 yards per carry. He scored eight TDs. “That was cool. I loved playing with Xavier,” McCants said. “We kept each other going. It (last season’s success) really makes me want to work harder. There’s no pressure, just keep working.” McCants, a senior out of Killeen High School, may be the Texans’ fastest current player. He posted a personal-best time of 4.32 seconds in the 40 when he was in high school. His best time recorded while at TSU was 4.37. Not only is McCants a key weapon, one all-time Texans record may be within his reach

Fall Football Guide 2019

13

this season, but not in rushing yardage. He is nearing TSU’s alltime career mark for total kick return yards. “It (that record) would be cool to have, but I never really talk about stats and records,” said the 5-8, 175-pound McCants. DEFENSE The defense is fully loaded, featuring All-America defensive backs Devin Hafford and safety Jai Edwards, and all-region cornerback Prince Edwards. “We’re really fast,” Whitten said of the defense. “We’ve got a lot of foot speed, and fast defenses usually play well. We’ve got three all-conference performers coming back in the secondary. We’ve got really good linebackers coming back. Ronnell (Wilson) will be a three-year starter. “There’s just really no weakness, and that coupled with the fact we’ve got a lot of team speed on defense makes us have high expectations. We stopped the run last year, really well. If we are going to be as good, we need to continue that trend.”


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JACKETS

CONTINUED FROM 2

punter last season as a sophomore, and he may become the team’s kicker for extra points, field goals and kickoffs, depending on how the competition works out. OFFENSE The starting quarterback job will be earned by one of two seniors with varsity playing experience — Kade Renfro and Cole Stanley. Doty said both of them “have great command and great presence that you’ve got to have out of your quarterback.” After Stanley suffered a broken foot bone in the fourth game of the 2018 season against Midlothian Heritage, Renfro started the rest of the way. Both had also seen varsity playing time at quarterback early in the 2017 season before thenstarter Easton Jones returned from an elbow injury to lead the Jackets to the state semifinals that year. Renfro finished last season with 1,768 yards passing with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Stanley threw for 723 yards, four TDs and two interceptions, playing in three full games and part of the

Heritage contest. Doty said that both Stanley and Renfro have a great understanding of the offense, and how to distribute the ball. “And they’re competing hard every day,” Doty said. “It is a close battle. Both kids bring a certain skill set to the table that we can see that will be valuable for our football team. “Cole does a great job in the pocket, improvising. He’s got great touch on the ball. He throws a great deep ball.” Renfro, who is listed as 6-5, went to work in the offseason and put on 25 pounds, moving up to about 190 now. “That was his plan coming out of the season,” Doty said of the weight gain. “Everything was kind of coming together for him and he always worked hard and he always was a leader. He’s got great zip on the ball, and he’s a very accurate passer.” If needed, junior Gavin Rountree can fill in at quarterback. He had been the starting quarterback for the freshman team in 2017. With the departure of three-year starting running back Krece Nowak — the second-leading rusher in school history — junior Kason Philips enters the season as the starter. “Kason is going to fall right in to the great tradition of Stephenville rushing,”

Doty said. “He’s a kid that sets up his blocks really well, he understands our schemes and can get in or out of cuts very quickly and get back going north and south.” Morrison and Rountree made some noise as receivers last season, and are ready to do more this year as juniors. Among the top candidates for slot receiver, Doty said that senior Caden Cowan had a good fall camp. “Our experience on the offensive side of the ball comes from the skill players. Kind of almost the reverse of what we see defensively,” Doty said, mentioning Gavin Rountree, Kason Philips and Trace Morrison making offensive contributions as well. The offensive line, as most coaches and players will testify, will be the real key to making everything click. “As they go up front, we’ll go and put up a lot of first downs, which is what it is all about,” he said. “It’s going to come from an inexperienced group up front. But we’ve got some good, hardworking kids that have busted their tails to put themselves in a good situation to go be a dominant o-line.” The lone returning starter on the offensive line is senior left tackle Adrian Cervantes. Doty said Caleb Smith has

Coaching Staff

Sterling Doty Head Coach

August Dobraski

Ian Walraven

Jerod Womack Athletic Director

Brandon Moore

Jeremiah Butchee

Nolan Vosburg

Wendy Svoboda Head Trainer

Casey Weil

Jessie Fanning

Ryan Craven

Saturday, August 24, 2019

had a role as “kind of sixth man,” and will now be the starting center. Doty also said that senior Daniel Luna at right guard and junior Damian Meza at right tackle are penciled in as likely starters, and senior Christian Martin is a prime candidate for left guard. Doty noted he thinks senior tight end Kreed Averhoff can provide help in runs schemes and pass schemes. Stidham and Walker will be used some in situations when the Jackets use their “sniffer back,” lining up just behind the offensive line. SCHEME Doty played for SHS under former head coach Art Briles, who led the Jackets to four state championships using his version of the spread offense before moving on to the collegiate level, which included the University of Houston. “Ever since I started my coaching career in 2007 at Abilene Cooper, we were running our Houston offense at Cooper,” Doty said of his offensive philosophy compared to that of Briles. “So I ran it for seven years there and then I got to continue to add, evolve and put my own twist on it and take it to Magnolia and run it for the last five years, so there are a lot of similarities.”

Yellow Jackets Varsity Roster

Abrahia Moore Assistant Trainer

Chad Hodges

Kolt Kittley

No. Name

Pos.

Class

No. Name

Pos.

Class

1

Kade Renfro

QB

Sr.

33

Dillon Schumann LB

Sr.

2

Cole Stanley

QB/DB/WR Sr.

36

John Rex Haile

FB/DL

Sr.

3

Grayson Traweek WR/DB

Jr.

40

Quentin Walker

TE/LB

Sr.

6

Alexander Barba WR//DB

Sr.

46

Asher Dittfurth

TE/LB

Sr.

7

Colton Accomazzo LB

Jr.

52

Daniel Luna

OL/DL

Sr.

8

Gavin Rountree

WR

Jr.

53

Damian Meza

OL/DL

Jr.

9

Austin Stidham

DL

Sr.

54

Caleb Smith

OL

Sr.

11

Eduardo Campos RB/LB

Sr.

56

Zach Ramos

OL/DL

Sr.

12

Bryson Dill

WR/LB

Jr.

57

Hunter Drake

OL/DL

Sr.

13

Trace Morrison

WR/DB

Jr.

58

Adrian Montano

OL/DL

Jr.

14

Kreed Averhoff

TE/DL

Sr.

64

Adrian Cervantes OL

Sr.

15

Kason Philips

RB

Jr.

65

Logan Davis

OL/DL

So.

17

Coy Eakin

WR/DB

So.

70

Christian Martin

OL

Sr.

21

Harrison Barkley

LB

Jr.

75

Ricardo Chavez

OL/DL

Sr.

24

Caden Cowan

WR

Sr.

81

Hunter Seemann WR/DB

Sr.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

STEPHENVILLE EMPIRE-TRIBUNE

Fall Football Guide 2019

15

MARK WILSON/ E-T

The Dublin Lions 2019 Varsity Football Team.

MARK WILSON/ E-T

The Hico Tigers 2019 Varsity Football Team.

www. yourstephenvilletx.com/pickem


16 Fall Football Guide 2019

STEPHENVILLE EMPIRE-TRIBUNE

Saturday, August 24, 2019

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