Aledo vs. Stephenville….. A Classic Rivalry
By Steve Keck
Somehow, we all knew it would happen. When the brackets came out for Division II, we all knew Aledo would be playing Stephenville for the Region 1 championship. It really didn’t matter that Stephenville was 5-5 when the playoffs started. We knew it would happen last year in the playoffs when the Bearcats defeated the Yellowjackets 26-23 in overtime in the area game.
We also knew no matter what the records were, it would be a great game this year. If Aledo and Stephenville met in a sandlot in the middle of nowhere, it would be a hard fought victory for the last team with the ball. One team would end up the winner and the other team would end up dignified in defeat. When these two teams play, the players leave everything out on the field.
Dating back to 1982, Stephenville won two close games in 1982 (18-7) and 1983 (12-7). The teams did not play again until they were in the same district in 2002. Prior to the game on Friday, the average score for all games played between the two schools was 21-21. Aledo and Stephenville decided to keep the rivalry game on the regular season schedule when changes in alignment sent the two teams to different districts.
We all know there will be some big fourth down play or two during the game. For some reason, the losses are easier to remember like in 2006 when Javon Snead threw a touchdown pass with :08 left for a 31-28 Stephenville victory. Or in 2007, when the Yellowjackets looked dead with a fourth down deep in Aledo territory and Cody Spano threw a pass against the wind to keep the drive alive and lead Stephenville to the winning touchdown with 1:00 left in the game.
The Aledo loss in 2007 was the last district game played and the last time Stephenville defeated the Bearcats. Aledo has won the last five. Before that, Stephenville had won four in a row. Since the two teams began playing in the same district in 2002, the record for the ten games played was 5-5 before the 18-10 victory on December 3rd.
We all know it will be a hard hitting, intense game between two of the best high school football programs in the state. We also know it will be a clean game with mutual respect between the players, coaches, and fans. Even with emotions high, cooler heads will prevail because neither team wants to give up an inch of field position to the opponent. Every play in the game and any play in the game could determine the outcome.
The Bearcats knew they would be playing Stephenville again if they defeated Hereford last week. In the locker game after the win, the players were already in Yellowjacket mode. There was a sense of urgency to get back immediately to prepare for Stephenville. Garrett Young is a senior and two year starter as the starting center for the Bearcats. "The whole team has been pumped up all week. This is the fourth time we have played Stephenville in the last two years. We have respect for each other. We know it is a rivalry game and they will always be competitive", said Young after the Aledo victory.
Aledo vs. Stephenville embodies every positive aspect of healthy competition. Our society has set the bar so low; the concept of having to work hard to achieve goals is getting passé. The life lessons these players are learning is extremely positive. Better competition helps players from both teams understand the importance of hard work and dedication. It teaches them to focus and pay attention to every detail in preparation.
Not everything these players do in life will demand such intensity, but as they live out their lives, they have a life lesson on the things they have to do when the going gets tough. Healthy competition raises the bar. It is a good thing. Once the game is over, there are two winners on the field. It really doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says.
For the Yellowjackets, they know the next game they play will be against the Bearcats on opening day 2011. The Stephenville players, coaches, and fans are probably hoping Aledo wins out so they can be the team that breaks the Bearcat winning streak. If the situation was reversed, wouldn’t we all be hoping for the same?
SCOREBOARD BEARCATS! 18-10
Taking this photo was done totally out of respect for the Stephenville player.
It captured the emotions of this rivalry.
Henry & Corine Anders
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