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Classic Offense-Meets-Defense Matchup When Stephenville + Kilgore Play for Spot in 3A D-I Championship

Kilgore’s Cooper Coldiron (right) looks for a receiver during the Bulldogs’ 14-10 win vs. Henderson on Nov. 2. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Class 3A Division I
State Semifinal

Stephenville Yellow Jackets (11-1)
vs.
Kilgore Bulldogs (11-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Vernon Newsom Stadium, Mansfield

Coaches
Stephenville: Joseph Gillespie
Kilgore: Mike Wood

Road To The Semifinals

Stephenville

  • Bi-district: def. Burnet, 56-27
  • Area: def. Kennedale, 56-24
  • Region I final: def. Abilene Wylie, 59-28

Kilgore

  • Bi-district: def. Athens, 42-7
  • Area: def. Paris, 41-14
  • Region II final: def. Gainesville, 30-14

 

Next week: Winner plays Carthage (11-2) or El Campo (13-0) in the 3A Division I state championship, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

 

Playmakers

Stephenville

  • QB Tyler Jones, Sr., 6-3, 205 (224 of 328, 3,257 yards, 37 TDs, 4 INTs; 120 carries, 767 yards, 16 TDs)
  • WR Brice Gunter, Sr., 6-3, 195 (73 catches, 1,143 yards, 15 TDs; committed to Texas State)
  • RB/LB Witt Westbrook, Sr., 5-10, 195 (167 carries, 1,042 yards, 11 TDs; 30 catches, 297 yards, 2 TDs; 65 tackles, 8 for loss, 1 sack)
  • DE Chase Varnado, Sr., 6-1, 220 (107 tackles, 37 for loss, 12 sacks, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles; 2 TD catches)
  • DE Jonah Noah, Jr., 6-2, 215 (94 tackles, 31 for loss, 11 sacks, 2 forced fumbles)
  • WR Jarrett Stidham, Soph., 6-3, 190 (45 catches, 712 yards, 9 TDs; 2 rush TDs)
  • WR Alex Sanchez, Sr., 5-10, 180 (43 catches, 595 yards, 4 TDs; 11 carries, 188 yards, 2 TDs)
  • OL Bryan Manley, Sr., 6-4, 315
  • ILB Kobe Beavers, Jr., 5-10, 200 (78 tackles, 5 for loss)
  • DB Mookie Carlile, Jr., 6-2, 190 (69 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble)
  • DB Tyler Petit, Sr., 5-9, 165 (69 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 8 pass breakups)
  • DL Kody Hook, Sr., 6-3, 290 (66 tackles, 9 for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble)
  • TE Brock Morrison, Soph., 5-11, 190 (22 catches, 337 yards, 4 TDs)
  • OLB Sam Macklin, Sr., 6-1, 205 (44 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles)
  • C Tyler Ferguson, Jr., 5-11, 255

 

Kilgore

  • MLB A.J. Davis, Sr., 6-0, 220 (143 tackles, 12 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles; 3 TD catches)
  • DT LaDarrin Anthony, Jr., 6-1, 230 (99 tackles, 24 for loss, 12 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries, 1 kick block, 1 punt block)
  • DE D.Q. Scott, Jr., 5-11, 225 (49 tackles, 11 for loss, 7 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 1 punt block)
  • OLB Jake Brantley, Jr., 5-10, 185 (98 tackles, 8 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • WR/CB Benny Colbert, Jr., 5-10, 175 (9 catches, 123 yards; 50 tackles, 6 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries, 6 pass breakups, 2 kick blocks)
  • QB Cooper Coldiron, Sr., 5-11, 170 (67 of 125, 1,319 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs; 6 rush TDs)
  • WR/DB Q Brewster, Jr., 6-1, 185 (12 catches, 216 yards, 1 TD; 30 tackles, 5 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 kick block)
  • WR Aaron Foy, Jr. (17 catches, 401 yards, 4 TDs)
  • OL Clay Wiley, Jr., 6-0, 280
  • FB/DE Cornelius “Spike” Bell, Sr., 6-1, 225 (26 carries, 131 yards, 6 TDs; 26 tackles, 7 for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries)
  • DT Josh Daniels, Sr., 6-0, 295 (31 tackles, 5 for loss, 2.5 sacks)
  • S Hector Peralez, Sr. (54 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery, 7 pass breakups)
  • LB Kris Haynes, Soph. (82 tackles, 5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • RB Austin Jordan, Sr. (123 carries, 856 yards, 7 TDs)
  • RB JuJu Brown, Jr. (143 carries, 695 yards, 9 TDs)

 

Just the facts

  • Stephenville averages 44.8 points per game and allows 20.9.
  • Kilgore averages averages 31.6 points per game and allows 8.5.
  • Stephenville averages 468.4 total yards per game (189.8 rushing, 278.6 passing).
  • Kilgore averages 312.1 total yards per game (202.2 rushing, 109.9 passing).
  • Stephenville allows 290.3 total yards per game (160.6 rushing, 129.7 passing).
  • Kilgore allows 216.3 total yards per game (119.1 rushing, 97.2 passing).
  • Stephenville has scored 48 or more points in six games, including five 56-plus outputs.
  • Kilgore has not scored more than 42 points in a game.
  • Stephenville has held one team to single digits.
  • Kilgore has held seven teams to single digits.
  • Both teams finished the 2011 season as Class 4A Division II state quarterfinalists. Stephenville lost to eventual champion Aledo, which beat Corsicana — the team that knocked out Kilgore — in the state semifinals.
  • Stephenville has won four state championships (1993-94, 1998-99), all coached by current Baylor head coach Art Briles, and all as a 4A school.
  • Kilgore offensive coordinator Rafe Mata played for Briles at Houston and worked for Briles on Baylor’s staff.
  • Kilgore has won one state championship (2004, 4A Division II).

 

 

Kilgore LB A.J. Davis. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Stephenville’s offensive line vs. Kilgore’s defensive line. It’s no secret in Texas high school football circles that Stephenville is a name program with a lot of history, and that history has always had a lot offense in it. The 2012 Stephenville team is no different with two Texas State-bound players — QB Tyler Jones and receiver Brice Gunter — leading a Yellow Jacket offense averaging almost 470 total yards per game. But the passing game — and strong, complementary ground game — can’t succeed without a strong offensive line, which Stephenville has. That offensive line faces perhaps its toughest challenge to date against a Kilgore defensive front that has dominated almost every opponent it has faced. Tackles LaDarrin Anthony and Josh Daniels join ends Spike Bell and D.Q. Scott to give Kilgore a playmaking front that also protects the Bulldogs’ stellar linebacking corps led by all-state A.J. Davis, who leads the team in tackles for the third consecutive season. On the other hand, Kilgore hasn’t seen an offense as explosive and balanced as Stephenville’s. Kilgore shut down the high-flying Mount Pleasant passing attack, but the Tigers’ lacked the consistent ground game to keep the Bulldogs off balance. Kilgore cornerback Benny Colbert will play a key role, as he did against Mount Pleasant and standout receiver K.D. Cannon. But as the saying goes, sometimes your secondary is only as good as your front four. If Stephenville controls the line of scrimmage, Kilgore is in trouble, against the run or the pass. If Kilgore can take away one or the other — especially the run, allowing Anthony and company to pin their ears back and come after Jones — it will help the Dogs’ chances of pulling what the majority of football fans across the state would consider an upset.

 

Chalk talk

  • Kilgore coach Mike Wood on his team’s defensive success: “I think the biggest thing is going out and trying to take away what the offense wants to do and what they do well, try to take that away and force them to do something different.”
  • Wood on slowing down Stephenville’s potent offense: “You’ve gotta take away some of those zones they like to hit all those receivers in, but you’ve gotta pressure the quarterback. It’s kind of a Catch-22; you’ve got to be able to pressure him, but you’ve gotta have enough back to take away those zones. He’s a smart kid and he knows where he’s going with the ball, and you’ve gotta hopefully disrupt some of that.”
  • Kilgore middle linebacker A.J. Davis on his defense’s approach to facing Stephenville: “They have a good tempo. We just have to go out there with good communication, don’t worry about anything else. Just stay out there focused and play hard.”

 

Kilgore CB Benny Colbert. (Courtesy Kilgore ISD)

Don’t be surprised if: Both teams see a lot of stuff they haven’t seen from any of their previous opponents. This is being hyped as a classic offense vs. defense matchup, and for good reason. But the two units that are being overlooked — Stephenville’s defense and Kilgore’s offense — could have the biggest impact in deciding who plays for a Class 3A Division I state championship in their first season down from 4A. In fact, Kilgore’s best defense may be an effective running game that keeps the ball away from the Jacket offense and forces the Stephenville defense to play more snaps than it wants. Kilgore hasn’t had to get too complicated with its offense in its first three playoff games, so don’t be surprised to see a new wrinkle here or there. This matchup brings to mind the 2010 3A Division II state semifinal between high-flying Brownwood and offensively-balanced, physical Carthage. Those Bulldogs were able to rush for more than 300 yards on Brownwood and limit the Lions to nine possessions, only four of which ended in touchdowns. If Kilgore can replicate that performance, they could join their East Texas brethren in knocking off a favored West Texas team in a state semifinal. But if Stephenville gets an early lead, Kilgore is probably in trouble. The Dogs aren’t built to come from behind and need their defense to set the tone early and play the fast and physical style that has allowed them to dictate the tempo all season. Otherwise, there’s no upset in store.

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