Mustangs ready for dance with Sweetwater for 48 minutes
Published 8:56 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016
WEST ORANGE — Only just 48 minutes stand in the way from a magical repeat performance for the West Orange-Stark Mustangs.
The Mustangs (15-0) can put an exclamation point on one of the most dominating seasons in Texas high school football history Friday with a victory as they will take on the Sweetwater Mustangs (13-1) at “High Noon” at AT&T Stadium in Arlington in the Class 4A Division II State Championship Game.
WO-S will be making its third straight trip to the State Championship and defeated Celina 22-3 to bring home the big trophy last year.
“This will be three years in a row for some of our kids and we couldn’t be happier for them,” said WO-S coach Cornel Thompson. “What a great group of seniors we have and they will be playing their last 48 minutes for their school and they want to go out and remember this for the rest of their lives. They’ll be focused in on what they have to do. They’ve done it all year long. It would be great to bring home another one, we’re facing an excellent opponent that is just as hungry as we are.”
Sweetwater will be making its first appearance since 1985. Sweetwater defeated Tomball 17-7 to win the Class 4A crown.
“Sweetwater has a tremendous program and have been a power in their part of the woods for a long time now,” said Thompson. “There is no doubt, they’re here for a reason. They’ve defeated some very good programs to get here.”
WO-S, District 12-4A Division II champions, have outscored opponents 787-63 for the season and 266-33 in the playoffs and will enter the state tilt on a 26-game winning streak.
Sweetwater, District 2-4A runnerups, have outpointed opponents 640-243, including 218-98 in the postseason. Sweetwater’s only loss came from 2-4A champion Monahans 19-16.
Both teams notched strong victories in the State Semifinals last Friday.
WO-S tortured Navarro (14-1) 49-7, limiting the Panthers potent Slot-T offense to a mere 154 total yards.
Meanwhile, Sweetwater used the arms and legs of junior quarterback Chris Thompson and four interceptions by its defense to stun Gilmer 48-35.
The Mustangs will certainly face a Sweetwater offense that can flat-out move the football from the spread. WO-S has played 10 teams that have ran the Slot-T. This will be their second opponent in the playoffs that runs a wide-open style of offense. Robinson ran the spread in the area round in a game which the Mustangs held strong, winning 47-14.
The Mustangs are certainly honed in on quarterback Thompson. The junior has had a huge season.
He has completed 222-of-326 passes for 3,042 yards and has 32 touchdown tosses and just five interceptions. His legs are dangerous as well as he has rushed for 1,112 yards and 24 TDs on 131 totes. He had 292 yards passing and 139 rushing against Gilmer, accounting for six touchdowns.
“There is no doubt, the Thompson kid makes them go,” said Thompson. “Don’t let his size fool you, he’s about 160 pounds, but he’s tough. He’s mobile and can take off with it. He scrambles around well to buy himself some time. He’s accurate and has a quick release.”
Thompson has three excellent targets to get the ball too.
Receiver Kobe Clark leads the way with 70 catches for 1,224 yards and 13 TDs. Fellow receiver Jordan McGee has hauled in 63 catches for 956 yards and 14 scores. Luke James has grabbed 44 receptions for 620 yards and five TDs.
“They have excellent receivers,” said Thompson. “They run good routes and have good hands. We can’t let them get past us, gotta keep them in front of us.”
Jacoby Hunt leads the Sweetwater ground game with 1,201 yards and 12 TDs on 185 carries. McGee also gets the ball in the running game as well with 346 yards and four TDs on just 27 totes.
“The Hunt kid is a good one,” said Thompson. “They have excellent skill people. They all go both ways too with the exception of Thompson. They are good football players that rarely leave the field.”
Sweetwater will have the challenge of trying to chew up yards against the best defense in Class 4A.
WO-S has compiled eight shutouts and is allowing just 123.7 yards a game.
Opposing quarterbacks have completed just 62-of-188 passes for 531 yards and have tossed 16 interceptions. Running games have had no success either. WO-S has given up just 1,324 yards on 599 carries with opponents averaging just 2.2 yards a carry.
“They (Sweetwater) are good up front in their offensive line,” said Thompson. “They’re a little bit smaller than most of the lines we’ve faced this season. They do come off the line quick and are pretty mobile.”
The Sweetwater defense has been solid for most of the season. They did allow Gilmer had nearly 500 yards last week as Gilmer quarterback Aaron Brown passed for 340 yards but Sweetwater was opportunistic with four interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
“They play good defensively with several kids playing both ways,” said Thompson. “They have a linebacker in Hunter Mobley that was All-State last year with about 170 tackles. The (Kiante) McCoy kid is an excellent linebacker too. He had two picks against Gilmer, bringing one of them back. Their noseguard is going to be tough to handle. Their secondary has some athletes. They’ve been able to force some turnovers in bunches this year, including four interceptions against a great Gilmer unit.”
The WO-S offense continues to churn out yards and getting the ball to a lot of their skill people.
Senior quarterback Jack Dallas, who will make his third start in the state title game, has completed 128-of-217 passes for 2,301 yards with 38 TDs and seven interceptions.
“This certainly isn’t Jack’s first rodeo,” said Thompson. “He’s been such a tremendous leader. We’ve got some experience with some guys at the skill levels that can make it happen. We’ve done so well throughout the season in not turning the ball over. You have to do that to be successful. Never is it more important though, then it will be Friday.”
KJ Miller leads the way with 35 receptions for 753 yards and 13 TDs. Keion Hancock has hauled in 32 grabs for 552 yards and eight scores. Dominique Tezeno and Jay’Len Matthews have teamed up for 30 catches for 386 yards and nine TDs.
Jeremiah Shaw leads the WO-S ground arsenal with 1,183 yards and 17 TDs on 149 carries and also has 11 catches for 237 yards and three scores.
Kavyn Cooper has 713 yards and 13 TDs on just 72 carries. Hancock (32-365-2) and Justin Sibley (29-290-2) both average over 10 yards a carry while Dallas has 10 rushing TDs to his credit.
Then there is the return game.
Miller had a 65-yard punt return for a score against Navarro along with a 72-yard interception return for a TD.
Miller and teammate Jarron Morris have brought five punt returns back apiece for scores this year. They have combined for 960 yards on 32 returns, averaging 32 yards per return.
A huge crowd is expected at AT&T Friday with the WO-S-Sweetwater tilt being the first of three games.
Sweetwater has been known to bring a loud and proud crowd as they will look to match the Mustang faithful.
“Our support, throughout the course of the season, has been amazing,” said Thompson. “It was awesome to look up at the fans at NRG last week and see all of that blue. It thrills the kids too. To see people from the entire Southeast Texas area there rooting us makes it that more special. Our kids are just so proud of representing the community and love all the support and they look for even more this week.”
The Mustangs are certainly looking for strong preparation this week.
The team that plays the best for 48 minutes and makes the least amount of mistakes is going to come out of there with a victory Friday,” said Thompson. “This group’s work ethic has allowed them a tremendous opportunity that they will carry on with for the rest of their lives. It would be very special to come home with another one.”
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
WO-S 48, Giddings 5
WO-S 49, Navarro 7
Sweetwater 42, Michita Falls 14
Sweetwater 60, Big Spring 20
Sweetwater 52, Lake View 6
Sweetwater 80, Pecos 38
Sweetwater 52, Lamesa 12
Sweetwater 53, Fort Stockton 0
Sweetwater 39, Seminole 22
Monahans 19, Sweetwater 16
Sweetwater 28, Greenwood 14
Sweetwater 48, Dalhart 21
Sweetwater 40, Krum 14
Sweetwater 44, Glen Rose 14
Sweetwater 38, Seminole 14
Sweetwater 48, Gilmer 35