After getting a week off, the West Orange-Stark Mustangs will venture to Orange County rival Orangefield to take on some angry Bobcats.
The Mustangs (4-1, 2-0) defeated Hardin-Jefferson 46-6 back on Oct. 4 before entering their bye week.
The Bobcats (4-3, 1-2), meanwhile, are coming off a gut-wrenching 35-30 road loss to Hardin-Jefferson (4-2, 1-1) last week in Sour Lake.
“Orangefield is a tough place to play and their kids always give a supreme effort,” said Mustang coach Cornel Thompson. “The bye week was pretty good for us. We were able to heal a few bumps and bruises. The thing about us is that we’ve got to go out and play well on the road. We’ve played really good at home but not so much on the road.”
Five turnovers proved too costly in the loss for the Bobcats, who rallied from a 35-2 deficit to nearly come back to clip the Hawks.
“We definitely shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers and special team issues,” said Bobcat coach Josh Smalley. “The kids know we’re a better football team than that. We were proud of how they bounced back in the second half though. The effort was always there, we’ve just got to get better with our execution.”
The Bobcats will turn the ground-and-pound running game to try to pull off the upset of the Mustangs. Orangefield has never defeated WO-S.
Orangefield is churning out 328.1 yards a game.
Bobcat tailback Carl Wiley went over the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight year in the loss to H-J. He now has 1,016 yards and six touchdowns on 162 tough totes.
Orangefield quarterback Carmichael Wiley has rushed for 460 yards and six TDs on 93 totes. Dylan Gray now has 227 yards and two TDs on 32 carries after he ran for 127 yards on 12 carries against the Hawks.
The Bobcats will face a Mustang defense that is allowing 274.4 yards a game.
“When you play West Orange-Stark, you better bring your ‘A’ game,” said Smalley. “Everyone was talking about the demise of the Mustang defense when the season started when they lost all of those starters off last year’s great team. Well, you can just throw that out the window because they’ve been playing good, sound defense this year with a lot of young kids that have stepped in and played well. They’re the same well-disciplined defense that they’ve always been with Coach Thompson. They’re just a well-oiled machine.”
“Orangefield has a very physical bunch to deal with,” said Thompson. “They’re big and strong across the offensive line. They have an excellent tailback (Carl Wiley) that battles every down. It’s a hard offense to deal with because they really move the chains. Turnovers got them a little last week but we know they will bounce back and play us hard.”
The Mustangs have 21-3A’s second-ranked offense behind Silsbee as WO-S is churning out 351.6 yards a contest.
Sophomore WO-S quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole has completed 34-of-60 passes for 641 yards and has seven TDs on no picks.
He’s had a slew of receivers to turn to in the forms of Will Johnson (11-184-2), Dwain Boullard (10-116-2), Chris Horn (8-128-0), Tre Spencer (7-140-2) and Deionte Thompson (7-176-2).
“The kids, I think, are ready to get back to business after the week off,” said Thompson. “This is the time of the season when it all counts and you want to be at your best and that’s taking care of all the little details that helps make a good football team into an excellent one.”
Tailback Chris James powers the WO-S ground arsenal with 427 yards and four TDs on 52 carries.
WO-S will face a Bobcat defense that is allowing 274.4 yards a game. Despite the loss, Orangefield limited H-J to 258 yards last week.
“We’ve got a challenge in front of us defensively,” said Smalley. “The Cole kid is excellent and he’s just going to keep getting better. He can burn you with his arm and his legs. What receiver do you stop? They have about six or seven that can hurt you. They have two excellent backs in James and (John) Scott.”
The Mustangs defeated the Bobcats 54-0 last year as WO-S totaled 516 yards of offense and limited the Bobcats to 132.
The Mustangs will welcome Buna to Hooks Stadium next week while the Bobcats will enter their bye week.