The Orange Leader
WEST ORANGE —
West Orange-Stark got some “rest” last week with their bye week.
It worked out well for the Mustangs, who will have to deal with some red-hot Orangefield Bobcats in District 21-3A play at Hooks Stadium Friday night for Homecoming.
The Mustangs (6-0, 2-0), ranked No. 6 in the latest Class 3A poll, healed a few bumps and bruises and are ready to hit the field again.
“We got a few folks that healed up some but we worked out just like it was a regular week, we’re not going to cut any slack around here,” said Mustang coach Cornel Thompson. “We’ve been able to work in a few new things and added a few wrinkles.”
The Bobcats (3-4, 2-1), meanwhile, are on a two-game winning streak after stopping Hardin-Jefferson 19-14 last week and they thumped Hamshire-Fannett 54-28 the week before.
“The kids have really played well the last couple weeks and have really played well for 48 minutes both times,” said Bobcat coach Josh Smalley. “They really shined on the road at Hamshire. We were really pleased with them last week, playing in a tight game with H-J and they really responded down the stretch. What we were proud of the most against H-J was our defensive effort. We had some kids that really stepped up for us and made big plays in that second half.”
A Mustang defense, led by the likes of linebackers Joe Lynch and Daniel Woodson, will look to slow down Orangefield’s vaunted Slot-T offense.
It should be quite a battle up front.
“Orangefield runs that Slot-T so well and when its done right, its darn hard to stop,” said Thompson. “They run those traps up in there well and we’ve been concentrating on that a lot. The best thing about that bye week is that it gave us time to work on it. It’s not something you can prepare for in three days, so it really helped. Plus, we have Buna next week, which runs a similar offense.”
WO-S has four shutouts to its credit and has allowed just 20 points all season and gives up just 147.7 yards a game.
“Their defense is as advertised, they’re the best around, no doubt about it,” said Smalley. “They do that year-in and year-out but this is one of their best units that I’ve seen in quite some time. We’ve just got to remain patient, move the sticks and get some first downs and take care of the football. After watching film on them (WO-S) against H-F and H-J, they took advantage of some short fields that led to easy scores. If you do that against them, you’re in for a long night.”
Meanwhile, the Bobcat offense is churning out 342.9 yards a game, 331 of it via the ground.
Bobcat tailback Carl Wiley is on a quest for the 1,000-yard mark. He’s shredded opponents for 810 yards and eight touchdowns on 121 carries.
Quarterback Eric Truncale has darted for 571 yards and six TDs on 73 carries and running back Tyron Como has 351 yards and three TDs on 56 totes.
“That Wiley kid is a tough one,” said Thompson. “He’s got nice speed and isn’t afraid to stick his head in there. He’s had big games against teams like Jasper and Silsbee. The Truncale kid, he’s the engineer of the whole thing and he’s a pretty darn good one.”
The Mustang offense, which averages 289.7 yards an outing, will look to move the ball against a Orangefield defense that is yielding 336.6.
Mustang quarterback Jimmy Salter has completed 58-of-106 passes for 681 yards and nine TDs and has yet to be picked off.
“One of these days, Salter is going to run out of eligibility,” laughed Smalley. “He’s a good one. He’s been starting for three years and is playoff-tested. The thing about playing the Mustangs is that you can’t simulate their speed in our practices and that hurts some. I think our schedule, playing teams like East Chambers, Newton and Jasper — has helped us on what to expect when you play teams like WO-S and Silsbee in district.”
J’Marcus Rhodes is the Mustangs’ top receiver with 19 catches for 322 yards and six TDs.
John Scott leads the Mustang ground game with 251 yards and three TDs on 30 totes while Abear Simien has 217 yards and three TDs on 39 carries.
The Mustangs will make their first trip ever to Buna next week to take on the Cougars while the Bobcats will have their bye week.