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Well-prepared Kilgore defense avenges last season's loss

By Hayden Henry
Dec. 14, 2013 at 12:15 p.m.


CORSICANA - Jeffrey Sanders knew Kilgore just had to keep smashing Stephenville in the mouth in order for the Bulldogs to move on.

That was evident from the get-go on Saturday at Tiger Stadium.

"It all started Monday when we came out for practice. We knew we had to get redemption after last year," Sanders said. "Every play, we had to know what we were doing and just keep going hard. ...keep smashing them in the mouth and shut them down."

Sanders pulled down his fifth interception of the season, spearheading a Bulldog (14-0) secondary that covered up the Yellow Jackets' receiving corps throughout the contest. Stephenville entered Saturday's matchup with more than 2,500 yards through they air. Kilgore held the Yellowjackets to 50 on Saturday.

"We changed up coverage a little bit to something that we didn't think they would see coming," Kilgore linebacker Jake Brantley said. "It worked out pretty well. ...holding a great offense like that to six points.

"Practice was great this week. Just great preparation. Everybody knew what happened last year and we didn't want to repeat that."

Kilgore's defensive line set up in the backfield early in the contest, forcing Stephenville quarterback Jarrett Stidham - a highly sought after recruit from schools across the nation - to scramble to find receivers. Ladarrin Anthony finished with a sack and broke up a pass. Jacobe Wafer and Kris Haynes each added a sack as well.

"They're just relentless," Kilgore head coach Mike Wood said of his defensive front. "They played great technique and snuffed a lot of running plays out. When they passed the ball, we were able to press the pocket and not give him lanes to escape like he (Stidham) likes to do. They just did a great job."

Anthony said it was simple.

"We went out there and played four quarters of football and eliminated the things that we needed to," Anthony said. "Coach Wood always tells us that we need to get vertical pressure, rush the passer and fight in the trenches and that's what we did.

"I'm so proud of the secondary – the just did their thing today."

Stephenville finished with 202 yards of total offense and were 1-of-10 on third-down conversions and finished 0-for-2 on fourth down enabling the Kilgore offense to control the clock throughout.

"You've got to win third down against a team like that and sometimes fourth down," Wood said. "That was a big key for us today."

Now the Kilgore defense will prepare for a high-flying Carthage team in the 3A Division I state championship and, to Sanders, if Kilgore plays like they did on Saturday his team will be bringing more hardware back to East Texas.

"We've been an underrated defense all season and we really hit our peak tonight," Sanders said. "We've always been known as a hard, smash-mouth defense.

"That's all it takes – smashing them in the mouth. We know they have a great passing and rushing game but if we play like we did today, it won't be a problem."

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