The Orange Leader
WEST ORANGE —
For the third straight week, the West Orange-Stark Mustang defense will have the opportunity to slow down yet another Slot-T offense as the Buna Cougars roll into Hooks Stadium Friday night in District 21-3A action.
The Mustangs (5-1, 3-0), tied with Silsbee for first-place, defeated Hardin-Jefferson (46-6) and Orangefield (38-14) in back-to-back weeks as they slowed down a pair of ground-and-pound squads.
Buna (5-3, 2-2) will check in with some momentum after the Cougars dropped H-J 14-0 last week.
“It’s rare where you see the same type of offense for three weeks straight,” said Mustang coach Cornel Thompson. “Buna, though, is a little different than Hardin-Jefferson and Orangefield. Don’t get me wrong, everything flows from their running game but they aren’t afraid to throw it. They like to try to get you unbalanced and they can hurt you with their passing game.”
WO-S has found a nice niche in their passing attack the last few games, led by sophomore quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole.
The Mustangs passed for 298 yards against the Bobcats last week. Sterling-Cole was 14-of-20 for 244 yards, passing for two touchdowns and running for another.
WO-S is gobbling up 365.2 yards a game to rank second behind Silsbee.
Sterling-Cole has completed 48-of-80 passes for 884 yards and nine TDs with just one interception.
“Dillon is really maturing back there,” said Thompson. “He’s been really accurate and he’s getting the balls to the receivers well and our receivers are getting some nice yardage after the catch.”
Opponents have had problems keying on one receiver as the Mustangs have used a nice stable that includes Will Johnson (14-221-3), Dwain Boullard (11-122-2), Deionte Thompson (11-268-3), Chris Horn (9-157-0) and Tre Spencer (9-195-2).
Tailback Chris James leads the ground game with 430 yards and four TDs on 57 carries. Jack-of-all-trades Chase Rutledge has been productive this season in a variety of positions. Against Orangefield, he threw a touchdown pass, ran for 65 yards and scored and caught a TD pass and had three catches for 59 yards.
WO-S will try to move the ball on a stiff Buna defense that has allowed just 227.5 yards a game.
The Cougars are piling up 325.5 yards a game with its Slot-T, averaging 250.8 on the ground as they will face a Mustang defense that is allowing 276.7 yards a game.
Despite battling asthma this season, Cougar tailback Matthew Biddle has darted for 802 yards and three TDs on 142 carries. Three other backs have contributed nicely in the forms of Perry Smith (58-291-4), Justin Kennedy (47-280-3) and Mason Lopez (47-245-4).
The Cougars have been deceptive with their passing attack and has turned some of their passes into big gains. Quarterback Joseph Clark has completed 30-of-65 for 528 yards and six TDs with just one pick.
“Buna was my sleeper way back when the season started,” said Thompson. “Biddle is a load to handle but they have several backs that can run up in there. Their quarterback has a good head on his shoulders. Their lines are big, physical and strong. They were one of the strongest, biggest teams we faced last year.”
The Mustangs blanked Buna 40-0 last season, limiting the Cougars to just 102 total yards while gaining 379 of their own.
The Mustangs will travel to Orange County rival Bridge City next week while the Cougars play host to Orangefield.