By CHRIS HOBBS
With one conference win so far, St. Stephens High’s Indians could give head football coach Wayne Hicks a heck of a birthday present if they can win tonight at home against Watauga.
St. Stephens (2-5, 1-2) isn’t out of the postseason picture just yet … and if the Indians beat the Pioneers, the door opens for potentially an 11th state football playoff bid.
The Indians still have to play at Alexander Central and have home games against South Caldwell and Hickory so beating Watauga would go a long way toward keeping their fate in their own hands.
Hicks — in his fifth season at St. Stephens — turns 55 on Sunday and will, like most head football coaches, probably be watching game film.
Getting to the playoffs has never been easy for the Indians. They went once in the 1960s, once in the 1980s, once in the 1990s and, prior to this season, seven times since 2000.
If St. Stephens can get to the postseason, it would make Hicks the fourth Indians head coach to guide the Indians to the state playoffs two or more times.
Doug Justice leads that list with three, and Dick Foster and Fred Whalen each advanced two of their teams to the state playoffs.
Review some of St. Stephens’ postseason football highlights below:
THE INDIANS’ LOG
— All-time state playoff bids: 10.
— Postseason records: 2-10 overall; 1-0 home; 1-9 away; 0-1 neutral.
BY HEAD COACHES
Year Head coach Team record
1961 n/a 9-1
1988 Dick Foster 6-5
1991 Dick Foster 9-3
2002 John Jarman 3-9
2003 Doug Justice 4-8
2006 Doug Justice 4-8
2007 Doug Justice 6-6
2008 Fred Whalen 7-5
2011 Fred Whalen 5-7
2015 Wayne Hicks 7-6
1988 (3A): Lost 26-8 at Shelby
1991 (3A): Won 39-32 over West Henderson; lost 17-2 at E. Rowan
2002 (3AA): Lost 47-3 at Asheville
2003 (3AA): Lost 41-14 at Franklin
2006 (3AA): Lost 53-33 at Charlotte Catholic
2007 (3AA): Lost 31-7 at A.L. Brown
2008 (3AA): Lost 35-10 at Anson County
2011 (3AA): Lost 49-0 at Crest
2015 (3AA): Won 14-13 at Canton Pisgah; lost 28-23 at Hibriten
THE HIGHLIGHT GAMES
St. Stephens 39, West Henderson 32
(at St. Stephens)
The Indians won their only home postseason game in school history when RB Reggie Shuford, who led the team with 18 rushing TDs that season, ran 30, 6, 7 and 5 yards and for three two-point conversions to turn back the Falcons.
After falling to Lincolnton, they added league wins over East Lincoln and Fred T. Foard to gain a home first-round game.
The Indians’ season ended in the second round in Rowan County when East Rowan won 17-2 via a TD run by Brad Ketchie, Chandler Shaw throwing 17 yards to Donald McGinnis for a score and Brett Hanson kicking a 23-yard field goal.
St. Stephens 14, Canton Pisgah 13
(at Canton Pisgah)
The Indians’ first road playoff victory was a gut-it-out/we-refuse-to-lose effort deep in the mountains that was led by QB Spencer Brown.
Brown, who arguably had the top season by a Greater Hickory area quarterback with 22 rushing TDs, had his final one of the season in this game. That was on a 23-yard run. He finished with 26 carries for 83 yards and completed five passes for 77 yards.
Brown also threw a 21-yard scoring pass to Zedrick Williams (it was Williams’ only TD catch of the year and just his second TD), and Bryce DeSantis kicked two PATs.
The Indians were outgained 255-200, and they won the turnover war 2-1.
The next Friday night, in the second round, Hibriten beat St. Stephens for the second time in the season (28-23) to eliminate the Indians.