ALEDO — The Aledo Bearcats football team is 3-0 and ranked seventh in the state by the Associated Press and will open District 8-4A play tonight. The only catch is that Aledo plays the Stephenville Yellow Jackets, a team most prognosticators have picked to win the district, right out of the chute and on the road.

Everyone knows the Stephenville offense is good. But the reason it is so good is because no one on opposing defenses gets to sit back and watch.

“The thing that makes Stephenville so good offensively, is they put the pressure on all 11 defenders,” said Aledo head football coach Tim Buchanan. “The guys in the back end — they cannot bail out and go defend the pass on every play. If we are bailing out, defending the pass, [Stephenville] is going to run the ball and screen us to death.

“The front seven, same basic thing — they know Stephenville has a good running game so we cannot back our ears and have a pass rush mentality on every play.

“They take advantage of what you give them,” Buchanan said. “Defensively, the biggest thing we have to do is gap control – make sure we take care of our responsibilities. What they will try to do is try to formation you, give you a formation that gets you into a certain defense that they are going to attack a certain zone or a certain person. We have to make sure we cover all of our bases and don’t leave matchups where their best receiver’s on one of our weakest defenders.”

Many have heard the saying the best defense is a good offense. Buchanan believes that is very true in this instance.

“We want to control the ball, and that doesn’t mean we are going to run the ball every down,” Buchanan said. “It is a deal where the best defense we can play is keeping the Stephenville offense off the field.

“In 2004, we went over there and played them. I went into the game with the idea that we had to score a bunch, and we did. But we scored so fast, our defense spent a lot more time on the field than what we should have done with them. We have to do a better job of controlling the clock as opposed to scoring on every play.

“They have a good enough running game and a passing game where they can wear your defense down. We have got to make three first downs every time we touch the football.”

Having offensive success will mean beating a defense that has not allowed very many points this season so far and is as complex to beat as the offense is.

“[It is] probably the best defense they have had since Chad Morris has been there,” Buchanan said. “They run to the ball well. They do a great job of covering the pass. They are not as big in stature as some of the old Stephenville defenses, but I am pretty impressed with their defense.”

Buchanan also said that the Stephenville defense will run two different fronts, one odd and one even. The Aledo coach emphasized how important it would be to run the right play against the right fronts, or the Bearcats could have trouble.

When it comes to the Stephenville team, Buchanan believes that even without Jevan Snead, who is now playing at the University of Texas, Stephenville could be tougher this year than last year.

“I am not sure their football team is not better this year than last year, as a whole team,” Buchanan said. “Kody Spano is a good quarterback. He runs the offense extremely well. That is why I have been so impressed with Spano because going from the JV to the varsity is not an easy step and he has really done well. But there is only one or two Jevan Sneads that come along every 5 to 10 years. Snead made the team better last year, but I think their team, personnel-wise, is better this year.”

Fans will find out when the teams meet at Tarleton Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. today.

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