orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

December 4, 2013

Mustangs prep for Carthage in Region III Finals

Van Wade
The Orange Leader

WEST ORANGE — After pulling out one of the most dramatic wins in school history last week, the West Orange-Stark Mustangs can’t rest on their laurels this week.

The Mustangs toppled rival Jasper 18-16 with a dramatic fourth-quarter drive to propel themselves to the Class 3A Region III Division I Finals this week against one of the most dominant Class 3A programs in the last several years in the form of the Carthage Bulldogs.

The Mustangs (11-1) and Bulldogs (12-1) will battle Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Thomas Center in Beaumont with the winner representing Region III in the State Semifinals next week.

“Last week, the kids showed some character because we didn’t play that well for the first three quarters against Jasper, but they got it done when they had too,” said Mustang coach Cornel Thompson. “We’re playing in December and a lot of folks can’t say that. I think we’re the last team left representing Southeast Texas and we’ve advanced to the fourth round for the third straight year. We’re one of eight teams left and we’d love to be in that Final Four deal next week.”

Carthage is coming off a 49-6 blistering of Silsbee in the regional semifinals.

The Bulldogs, coach by Scott Surratt, who was once an assistant at Little Cypress-Mauriceville in the early 1990s before moving to Texas High in Texarkana as an offensive coordinator, has built Carthage into not only a East Texas powerhouse but a state powerhouse as well.

That is no more evident in 2008-10 when the Bulldogs captured three state championships inn a row.

The Bulldogs downed Celina 49-37 in 2008 to take it all. They defeated Graham 13-12 to take a title in 2009 and stopped Coldspring 47-22 to win it all in 2010.

Carthage made it to the state semifinals last year, falling to El Campo 29-25.

“There’s no doubt, Carthage has been a powerhouse the last several years,” said Thompson. “Coach Surratt and his staff do a great job year-in and year-out. They have a nice indoor facility and a turf field up there and they mean business when they hit the field. They play all phases of the game well.”

Surratt had to know the Bulldogs would be back where they are this week with the return of 15 starters, including 10 off an explosive offense led by quarterback Blake Bogenschultz and tailback Tevin Pipkin.

The Bulldogs have averaged nearly 47 points a game in outscoring opponents 608-246 for the season.

Bogenschultz has completed 198-of-331 passes for 3,327 yards and has a stunning 48 touchdown passes with just three interceptions.

“The Bogenschultz kid has been through some big games and knows what it’s all about,” said Thompson. “He can fling it and is very precise in his execution. He’s physically tough and can run the ball well too.”

Pipkin has cut loose for 1,663 yards and 18 TDs on just 178 carries.

“The Pipkin kid has a motor on him,” said Thompson. “He has tremendous speed and cuts well. He cut up Silsbee pretty good last week. Carthage is big up front and they have two excellent guards.”

Bogenschultz definitely has a go-to receiver in the form of Tee Goree, who has hauled down 75 receptions for 1,480 yards and 24 TDs. Fellow receiver O’Keerion Rutherford has 52 catches for 789 yards and 13 TDs.

Both Bogenschultz (65-302-8) and Brylan Bolton (43-396-7) aid the Bulldogs’ running game as well.

“Goree is definitely their main receiver but they have weapons across the board,” said Thompson. “We’ve got to keep our discipline on defense. We’ve got to make stops at the point of contact. We struggled a little bit at that against Jasper. We can’t afford to do that this week.”

Against Silsbee, Pipkin had 211 yards on 12 carries while Bogenschultz didn’t have to pass much, throwing for 140 yards but had three TD passes.

They will run into a Mustang defense that has allowed just 224.5 yards a game and just 125 points for the season.

Carthage also defeated Mexia (49-8) and defending state champion Navasota (44-14) in the playoffs.

The Bulldogs’ only defeat came at the hands of 4A Whitehouse 63-39 in non-district play.

The Mustangs have built up plenty of steam offensively, averaging over 390 yards a game with sophomore quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole leading the way.

“Dillon really showed some poise, leading us down the field on the winning drive last week,” said Thompson. “He didn’t let a pair of interceptions earlier sway him in what he had to do. He’s a competitor and he’s constantly working to improve his game.”

Sterling-Cole has completed 131-of-207 passes for 2,226 yards to go along with 26 TDs and just four picks.

He has plenty of targets to go to.

Will Johnson leads all WO-S receivers with 39 catches for 745 yards and 13 TDs.

Deionte Thompson has 34 receptions for 629 yards and four TDs. Dwain Boullard (25-388-7), Chris Horn (15-202-0), Chris James (15-156-2) and Tre Spencer (10-208-2) are all involved in the mix.

James leads the balanced ground game with 687 yards and eight TDs on 107 touches. Sterling-Cole has 498 yards and 11 TDs on 113 carries while Chase Rutledge has 492 yards and five TDs on 95 carries.

The Carthage defense certainly isn’t shabby either. The Bulldogs limited a potent Silsbee offense to just 149 yards last week.

“Carthage likes to bring the pressure,” said Thompson. “We’re confident that we can move the ball, we just can’t afford any silly mistakes like penalties and turnovers. It’s that time of the year where a mistake here or there can mean a win or a loss. It should be a good one at “The Butch” and hopefully we can get a huge crowd from the area in there to watch it.”

The WO-S-Carthage winner will face the Region VI winner in the state semifinals next week. Gonzales and La Grange will meet for the Region VI title Friday.

Stephenville and Cooper are playing for the Region I title this week while Chapel Hill and Kilgore will duke it out in Region II.