Kilgore Seeks Payback in State-Semifinal Rematch With Defending 3A D-I Champion Stephenville
Class 3A Division I
No. 2 Kilgore Bulldogs (13-0)
No. 5 Stephenville Yellow Jackets (12-1)
2 p.m. Saturday
Tiger Stadium, Corsicana
- Kilgore: Mike Wood
- Stephenville: Joseph Gillespie
- Kilgore: won 59-19 vs. Chapel Hill
- Stephenville: won 42-28 vs. Lubbock Cooper
- Winner plays Carthage or La Grange in the 3A Division I state championship game, noon Friday (Dec. 20), Arlington's AT&T Stadium.
- RB Kevrin Justice, Jr., 5-11, 170 (174 carries, 1,654 yards, 31 TDs; 2 catches, 39 yards)
- RB Davieonta "JuJu" Brown, Sr. (150 carries, 1,176 yards, 18 TDs)
- QB Benny Colbert, Sr., 5-10, 170 (33 of 59, 686 yards, 9 TDs, 3 INTs; 87 carries, 673 yards, 6 TDs)
- WR/DB Aaron Foy, Sr., 5-11, 165 (12 catches, 347 yards, 4 TDs; 18 carries, 279 yards, 2 TDs; 30 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 QB pressure, 4 INTs, 8 PBU)
- WR Nick Orange, Jr., 6-3, 180 (16 catches, 227 yards, 2 TDs)
- TE Jared Wood, Jr., 6-3, 180 (6 catches, 191 yards, 4 TDs)
- DL LaDarrin Anthony, Sr., 6-0, 257 (88 tackles, 21 for loss, 11 sacks, 34 QB pressures, 4 forced fumbles, 1 blocked kick)
- DL D.Q. Scott, Sr., 6-0, 252 (71 tackles, 16 for loss, 9 sacks, 24 QB pressures, 3 forced fumbles)
- DL Caleb Wood, Sr. (65 tackles, 12.5 for loss, 9.5 sacks, 14 QB pressures, 1 blocked punt)
- LB/S Jake Brantley, Sr., 5-10, 185 (122 tackles, 11 for loss, 2 sacks, 3 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 5 recoveries, 4 INTs, 1 PBU)
- LB Kris Haynes, Jr. (117 tackles, 7 for loss, 3 sacks, 8 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 1 INT)
- S Stefun Tatum, Sr., 6-2, 178 (65 tackles, three fumble recoveries, 1 INT, 8 PBU)
- DB Jeffrey Sanders, Sr. (74 tackles, 2 for loss, 4 INTs, 6 PBU)
- CB Joseph Shepherd, Sr. (35 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 INTs, 9 PBU)
- DL Chad Bornes, Sr. (47 tackles, 11 for loss, 7 sacks, 18 QB pressures)
- QB Jarrett Stidham, Jr., 6-2, 188 (155 of 254, 2,640 yards, 30 TDs, 4 INTs; 136 carries, 999 yards, 16 TDs)
- RB Kaegun Williams, Fr. (158 carries, 1,521 yards, 18 TDs; 20 catches, 386 yards, 3 TDs)
- WR Brock Morrison, Jr. (31 catches, 540 yards, 10 TDs)
- LB Tyler Isham, Sr., 5-10, 185 (94 tackles, 5 for loss, 4 forced fumbles, 1 INT)
- WR/DB Mookie Carlile, Sr., 6-2, 195 (committed to UTEP; 18 catches, 263 yards, 4 TDs; 81 tackles, 5 for loss, 5 INTs, 7 PBU, 3 forced fumbles)
- LB David Jackson, Sr. (69 tackles, 16 for loss, 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 PBU)
- LB Kobe Beavers, Sr., 5-11, 195 (79 tackles, 17 for loss, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 PBU, 1 def. TD)
- DE Dakota Messer, Sr. (64 tackles, 19 for loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 PBU)
- DE Justice Bethea, Jr., 6-1, 215 (63 tackles, 18 for loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 iNT, 2 def. TDs)
- DL Cameron Reynolds, Jr. (69 tackles, 17 for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
- RB Will Brock, Sr., 5-11, 165 (82 carries, 513 yards, 4 TDs; 10 catches, 69 yards, 1 TD)
- WR Ben Martin, Jr., 5-9, 180 (25 catches, 555 yards, 3 TDs)
- WR B.J. Walker, Sr. (19 catches, 261 yards, 4 TDs)
- CB Malik Taylor, Sr., 5-9, 157 (66 tackles, 1 INT, 12 PBU)
- LB Logan Levisay, Sr. (68 tackles, 11 for loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 1 INT, 1 PBU)
Just the facts
- Kilgore is averaging 44.8 points and 406.9 yards per game -- 335.6 rushing and 71.3 passing.
- For the season, Kilgore has run 604 plays from scrimmage for an average of 8.8 yards per snap.
- Kilgore's defense is allowing 14.2 points and 246.8 yards per game -- 78.3 rushing and 168.5 passing.
- Kilgore's average margin of victory this season is 30.7 points.
- During the playoffs, Kilgore is outscoring the opposition by an average score of 46-15.
- The cumulative record of Kilgore's opponents this season is 66-71.
- District 16-3A's other playoff teams -- Gilmer, Chapel Hill and Gladewater -- were a combined 8-3 in the postseason.
- Kilgore is 24-2 in its last two seasons -- the only losses were to eventual 3A D-II state finalist Gilmer (20-14) last season and a 42-32 loss to Stephenville in last year's D-I state semifinal.
- Stephenville is averaging 47.1 points and 474.4 yards per game -- 270.5 rushing and 203.9 passing.
- For the season, Stephenville has run 730 plays from scrimmage for an average of 8.4 yards per snap.
- In four playoff games, Stephenville is averaging 50 points and 536.5 yards per game -- 299.3 rushing and 237.2 passing.
- During the postseason, Stephenville has run 240 plays from scrimmage for an average of 8.9 yards per snap.
- Stephenville's average margin of victory this season is 24.1 points.
- The cumulative record of Stephenville's opponents (not including Monterrey, Mexico's Prepa Tech) this season is 84-61.
- District 7-4A's other playoff teams -- Alvarado, Glen Rose and Hillsboro -- were a combined 1-3 in the postseason. The only win came from Glen Rose, which was eliminated in the second round.
- Stephenville has won five state championships in school history -- 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2012. The first four came under Art Briles, who's currently the head coach at Baylor.
Key matchup: Stephenville quarterback Jarrett Stidham vs. Kilgore defense. Kilgore coach Mike Wood was very clear on what his defense has to do in order to stop the Stephenville offense: "I don't know if we've seen anybody that throws the ball as well as they do. Their quarterback is one of the top quarterbacks in the state and in the nation. He has such a strong arm and he can certainly fit in those holes and in a hurry. But then he can run the football, and he's probably the fastest kid they have on their team. He can certainly hurt you in a lot of different ways." Stidham is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2015 class, and already has FBS offers from 14 schools, including Baylor, Oregon, Texas, Texas A&M, Clemson, Ohio State and Tech, according to 247sports.com. Stidham comes into Saturday's showdown hot, having completed 36 of 52 attempts for 720 yards and five touchdowns in Stephenville's previous two playoff games.
Kilgore's front is the Bulldogs' strength on defense. The defensive line, which features LaDarrin Anthony, D.Q. Scott, Caleb Wood and Chad Bornes, will be counted upon to apply a heavy rush on Stidham. For the year, Kilgore has registered 47 sacks on the season, but Wood mentioned that getting after a quarterback with the skill-set of Stidham is much easier said than done: "You have to be careful in rushing him. You don't want to flush him and you don't want to give him a bunch of rushing lanes. You're going to have to be able to control the pass rush. You've got to keep him hemmed in and maybe give him some different looks in the secondary and get him to hold the ball and get him pressured." Stidham enters the game one rushing yard shy of 1,000 for the season and has rushed for 215 yards and six touchdowns in the Yellow Jackets' four playoff games.
Kilgore's defense has had success with solid dual-threat quarterbacks this season, which includes Chapel Hill's Andrew Black and Gilmer's Tanner Barr. Wood is hopeful the past experience will be useful against Stephenville on Saturday: "Hopefully our kids understand how to rush somebody that can run. You can't just run past them and you can't just give them lanes to run through. He'll certainly pull it down if he sees an alley to take off. He's got the liberty to take off and make big plays. We've got to be disciplined in our rush lanes."
Stephenville, widely known for its spread passing attack, has been much more of dominant force on the ground this season. Freshman running back Kaegun Williams leads the 'Jackets in rushing with more than 1,500 yards on the season, but Kilgore's defense has been almost impossible to run against all season. In its two meetings against Chapel Hill, which averaged more than 300 rushing yards on the year, Kilgore allowed a total of 133 yards. So staying balanced with a successful running game may not be an option for Stephenville this week. If that's the case, it all comes down to Kilgore's effectiveness against the pass. The Bulldogs are surrendering less than 170 passing yards a week and have picked off 17 passes this season, including two in last week's win.
Don't be surprised if: This game turns into Kilgore's time-consuming rushing attack vs. Stephenville's air-it-out attack. Kilgore, while confident in its ability to throw the ball, really has no intention of diverting from its weekly game plan of sticking to the run. Wood said the pressure will be on his offense to continue its recent string of solid play: "Defensively we've got to find a way to get some stops on that offense. They don't punt the ball very much and we've got to find a way to get some stops, and offensively we've got to be able to run the football and control the clock and keep that offense on the sideline. If you can't do those things, they can dictate the game. And you can get behind them and it's hard to catch up to them."
With each offense functioning at a very high level, the game may ultimately come down to which defense makes the most stops. While Kilgore's defense may have the upper-hand over Stephenville's stop unit, Wood was very complimentary of the 'Jackets defense: “Their safety (UTEP commit Mookie Carlile) is one of the best in the state and I’m sure he’ll be up there involved in the run,” he said. “He’s such a great tackler and a physical player from the third level. Those are things when you run the football and they start putting those third-level guys in there, those are guys you normally can’t block and you’re going to have to deal with them. (Stephenville is) athletic enough out on the edges to keep you in the box a little bit. And we’re certainly going to have to do a great job of getting some pushes inside and creating some angles.”
This matchup has been talked about ever since the season began and both teams having taken care of business this year to make the semifinal rematch a reality. Wood said his players have been thinking about last year's loss for a while now: "You're going to have to play well for 48 minutes to beat a team of that caliber, and we didn't last year. We got behind and we had some turnovers early in the game and gave them the short field. We went in at halftime and decided as a football team we were going to try to climb back in the game, and we did. We made it a three-point game, and just didn't finish the thing. That's been one of the things in our kids' minds throughout the offseason … 'let's see if we can get back to that point and get a chance to move forward.'" Whatever transpires in Corsicana on Saturday afternoon, the winner should enter next week's state championship riding a high of confidence.