Wise County Messenger

Eagles face another test

Decatur takes on defending state champions
ANOTHER BIG CHALLENGE — Lane Hesteande makes a tackle against Rider Friday. The Decatur Eagles head to Stephenville Friday to play the defending state champions. MICAH MCCARTNEY/ WCMESSENGER

ANOTHER BIG CHALLENGE — Lane Hesteande makes a tackle against Rider Friday. The Decatur Eagles head to Stephenville Friday to play the defending state champions. MICAH MCCARTNEY/ WCMESSENGER

After a pair of losses to start the season, the road will not get easier for the Decatur Eagles this week.

The Eagles head to Stephenville Friday to face the defending 4A Division I state champions. The game will kick off at 7.

“It certainly doesn’t get any easier next week,” said Decatur coach Steve Huff after Friday’s game against Wichita Falls Rider. “We’ll sit down and look at this video, and then we’ll watch Stephenville’s tape. They’re going to have a good game plan in place, and it’s going to be a battle for us.

“My main goal is to see that we’re getting better. We’re playing good teams, and I think we got better tonight. So it’s up to us to get better again next week.”

The Yellowjackets are 2-0 after a thrilling 62-61 victory over 5A Division II power Everman. Stephenville opened the season with a 49-42 victory over Midlothian Heritage.

Stephenville quarterback Ryder Lambert has been on fire to start the year, throwing for nine touchdowns and 546 yards. He’s completed 36 of his 65 attempts.

Tristan Gentry has 10 catches for 192 yards. Topher Foster has hauled in 10 passes for 113. Payton Poston leads Stephenville receivers with four touchdown catches.

The Yellowjackets have also been explosive on the ground behind Tate Maruska, who has rushed for 482 yards and six scores in two games.

Decatur defensively played better Friday against Wichita Falls Rider. The Eagles limited Rider to 251 yards in the 30-24 overtime loss. Rider used a Tyrone Morgan 16-yard touchdown reception from Jack Pitts in overtime to get the win.

“We knew coming into the ball game that Rider was going to be a tough opponent,” Huff said. “They’ve got a really good, physical back, and their quarterback can throw it a mile. We played our tails off, but we just weren’t in a position to win tonight. It’s not from a lack of effort — these kids are playing hard.”

“Our defense played tough. We lost Toben [Petree] early in the interior, and the kids really sucked it up and played. They chased the ball well, and they tackled well. It was a very physical ball game, and our defense definitely kept us in the game.”

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