WEST ORANGE —
It doesn’t get any easier for the West Orange-Stark Mustangs Friday night as they will take on their third straight Class 4A opponent.
At least this time, the Mustangs will be in the friendly confines of Dan Hooks Stadium as the Beaumont Central Jaguars come calling to Orange along with former WO-S standout and former assistant coach Toby Foreman, who is now the head man at the Beaumont school.
Both teams are coming off tough losses.
The Mustangs (1-1) lost a gut-wrenching 37-34 on the road at The Reservation to Port Neches-Groves while the Jaguars (1-1) fell to Beaumont West Brook 31-14.
Both had impressive season-opening wins with WO-S downing Little Cypress-Mauriceville 21-3 while Central nipped Port Arthur Memorial 24-23.
After downing LC-M in a defensive battle and limiting the Bears to just 164 yards, the Mustangs fell to the Indians in a shootout last week.
The Mustangs outgained the Indians 477-474 in a tilt that featured nearly 1,000 yards of total offense.
“We had a lot of missed tackles and had a lack of self-discipline in a lot of instances that was very un-WO-S-like,” said Mustang coach Cornel Thompson. “We had some kids that were thrilled about being 1-0 and going into the Reservation. A lot of them got their first taste of playing on the road on a Friday night and playing there is a tough place to get baptized. I can say this, they battled through some things and battled for 48 minutes and a loss this early in the season isn’t always that bad.”
The Mustangs moved the ball extremely well against the Indians.
Tailback Chris James rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown and now has 251 yards for the season.
Sophomore quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole stepped in and played well, completing 12-of-24 passes for 212 yards and a TD. Junior quarterback Chase Rutledge has completed 15-of-31 passes for 163 yards and two interceptions and has rushed for 95 yards.
The WO-S receiving group has been steady and balanced with the likes of Dwain Boullard (6-87-0), Will Johnson (6-51-0), Chris Horn (5-84-0) and Tre Spencer (4-88-1).
Defensively, the Mustangs allowed 283 passing yards by the Indians and 191 more on the ground as the young unit is allowing 319 yards per game.
“We’re definitely concerned, because we had a lot of blown assignments,” said Thompson. “We were in the game the whole way and right when we thought we were in good shape, we would shoot ourselves in the foot. We’ve got to be able to bounce back this week because we’ve got another tough one facing us. We’ve got a few guys banged up, with ankle injuries and a back injury. We’ve got a depth issue. We’ve got to get some of them healthy before the district campaign gets going.”
Central went toe-to-toe with Memorial in escaping past the Titans. Last week the Jaguars ran into a huge West Brook offensive line and Bruin tailback Justen Hervey, who had 222 yards on 27 carries.
The Jaguars are led offensively by quarterback Michael Jacquet, who was a receiver last year.
Jacquet has excellent receivers to go to, especially Garrison Mitchell, Kamon Darby and Ian Bramble. The Jaguar running game is paced by Damon Thomas and Exavier Jones.
“The speed and tempo should pick up even more this week,” said Thompson. “Central has quickness on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they’re kinda small like us but they can fly to the football.”
Central’s coaching staff definitely has a “Blue and Silver” feel to it. Foreman has his father Mark Foreman, WO-S’ longtime secondary coach on board along with former Mustang standout and assistant coach Roy Locks and former WO-S and Lamar University quarterback standout Andre Bevil on staff as well.
“There’s going to be a lot of old Mustang connections on the other side of the field come Friday night,” said Thompson. “I’ve coached those guys and have coached along side of them. We’re looking forward to it being a good football game all the way around.”
The Mustangs will head to Jasper next week to take on the Bulldogs.