Mustangs facing old playoff foe in Buffaloes
WEST ORANGE — As West Orange-Stark coach Cornel Thompson likes to say, “This won’t be our first rodeo with this bunch.”
That will be the case Friday night in the Class 4A Division I Region III Finals when the WO-S Mustangs (13-0), defending Class 4A Division II State Champions and ranked No. 1 in the state in the Class 4A ranks, takes on an old nemesis in the forms of the Giddings Buffaloes (11-2) at 7:30 p.m. at Texan Drive Stadium in Porter.
This will mark the sixth meeting between the two programs and the fifth time they will meet in the postseason.
WO-S toppled Giddings 34-14 the last time they met in the area round in 2014.
WO-S downed Giddings 42-21 in 2005. The Buffaloes returned the favor 21-13 in 2006. The Mustangs won 28-19 in 2007. Giddings took a non-district game from WO-S 14-6 in 2011.
“We’ve had some good ones over the years, that’s for sure,” said Thompson. “That 2006 loss still stings to this day. They have had a tremendous program for so long now. We’re lining up against a darn good football team Friday night. You have to be good to reach this point, only eight teams left standing.”
The Mustangs have outscored opponents by a stunning 690-51 margin this season, including 169-21 in the playoffs after defeating Bellville 49-7 last week.
The Buffaloes, District 10-4A Division II champions, have outscored their opposition 487-274. Giddings went a perfect 5-0 in 10-4A play. They defeated Connally 41-18 in bidistrict before fending off WO-S’ 12-4A Division II rivals Hardin-Jefferson (28-21) and Liberty (26-14) the last two weeks.
The two Giddings’ losses this year came at the hands of Navarro (37-21) and Brownwood (36-35)
Coach Chris Jones and the Buffaloes like to spread the ball around equally in trying to throw off their opponents, mixing the running and passing games well.
“They do a lot of good things offensively that keeps you on your heels,” said Thompson. “They can put it in the air and run it in different kinds of formations. They really make you think.”
Quarterback Rustin Grimm has completed 97-of-168 passes for 1,576 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He doesn’t run it much, carrying 29 times for 49 yards for an offense that averages 324.6 yards a game.
“The Grimm kid reminds us a lot of the Bellville quarterback,” said Thompson. “He’s got a good arm and he will stand there under pressure and throw it.”
The Buffaloes’ most dangerous weapons are Chabastian Taylor and Jason James.
James has rushed for 623 yards and seven TDs on just 71 carries and has hauled in 27 receptions for 413 yards and five TDs.
Taylor has zipped for 600 yards and 10 TDs on just 63 totes and has caught 16 passes for 420 yards and six scores.
“Those two are definitely their bellcows,” said Thompson. “The Taylor kid lines up everywhere – running back, receiver and at Wildcat Quarterback. He’s gotta a little burst in his step. The James kid, they find plenty of ways to get him the ball with quick pitches and reverses and down the field.”
Tavion Paige (24-275-5) and Alex Orocio (41-228-4) add to the running game while Jaylon Joiner (19-282-2) and Treveon Johnson (19-270-3) are also solid receivers.
“They have good depth with several kids that have gotten their hands on the ball,” said Thompson. “Their offensive line is really big, they remind us of the Robinson line we faced.”
The Buffaloes will have a tall task in trying to move the ball against a Mustang Chain Gang Defense that has allowed a mere 119.4 yards per game this season to go along with eight shutouts.
The Mustangs held a stout Bellville running attack to just 171 total yards last week.
The WO-S offense has certainly picked up steam in the playoffs and is averaging 386.9 yards per outing.
Mustang quarterback Jack Dallas is approaching another 2,000-yard season after passing for 263 yards and five TDs against Bellville.
Dallas has completed 113-of-183 passes for 1,957 yards with 33 TDs and seven interceptions.
The Mustangs have spread the wealth around offensively.
Jeremiah Shaw powers the ground attack with 1,093 yards and 16 TDs on 131 carries.
Kavyn Cooper, who had a pair of TDs against Bellville, has 608 yards and 11 TDs on 62 carries.
Keion Hancock (24-252-2), Justin Sibley (22-248-2) and KJ Miller (17-191-1) have been capable as well.
Miller leads WO-S receivers with 32 catches for 570 yards and 12 TDs. Hancock (25-432-6) and Dominique Tezeno (15-219-8) fill the bill as well as Jay’Len Matthews, Blake Robinson and Rufus Joseph.
“Offensively, we’ve been able to do some really good things the last few weeks,” said Thompson. “We’ve been able to take what defenses have giving to us and we’ve also had some explosive plays vertically down the field. We’ve limited our turnovers and we’ve got to continue doing that. We’ve also got to stay away from silly penalties that some time creep up on us. We’ve gotta go out and play strong, disciplined football. There are no easy ones left, eight tremendous programs are remaining with some familiar faces in that bunch. We’re happy to be playing in December again and hopefully we can keep the train rolling.”
The WO-S-Giddings winner will face either Cuero (13-0) or Navarro (13-0) in the Class 4A Division II State Semifinals next week. Those two will play for the Region IV title Friday in San Antonio.
In Region II it will be Gilmer (12-1) and Celina (11-2), the Mustangs’ last two opponents in the 4A Division II state title games, going at it while Sweetwater (11-1) takes on Seminole (9-3) in Region I.
WO-S 42, Nederland 0
WO-S 45, LC-M 0
WO-S 55, Bridge City 0
WO-S 61, KIPP Northeast 0
WO-S 51, Silsbee 2
WO-S 45, Kennedale 21
WO-S 68, Hamshire-Fannett 0
WO-S 62, Hardin-Jefferson 0
WO-S 32, Liberty 7
WO-S 60, Orangefield 0
WO-S 73, Tarkington 0
WO-S 47, Robinson 14
WO-S 49, Bellville 7
Navarro 37, Giddings 21
Giddings 24, Wimberley 13
Giddings 34, Canyon Lake 21
Giddings 44, Yoakum 33
Brownwood 36, Giddings 35
Giddings 42, Smithville 7
Giddings 42, Caldwell 14
Giddings 49, Gonzales 28
Giddings 45, La Grange 13
Giddings 56, Columbus 19
Giddings 41, Connally 18
Giddings 28, Hardin-Jefferson 21
Giddings 26, Liberty 14