Sweet State Success
Published 12:21 am Saturday, December 17, 2016
By Van Wade
The Orange Leader
ARLINGTON – Applying an exclamation point to a dominant season, the West Orange-Stark Mustangs claimed their second consecutive Class 4A Division II State Championship by toppling the Sweetwater Mustangs 24-6 at AT&T Stadium Friday afternoon in front of a big crowd of 17,653 spectators.
Sweetwater (13-2) fought hard against the big boys from Orange but WO-S (16-0) had the final say in the matter.
“I couldn’t be prouder of a group of young men,” said WO-S coach Cornel Thompson. “They have put in so much work to reach this level.
They always seem to bring the best out of one another. They so wanted to repeat this deal and it all started back in January and it culminated into this. Without question, Orange, Texas is one happy
place right now. The crowd, it was totally amazing. We’re taking the trophy back home with us again.”
For the 10th time this season, the WO-S Chain Gang Defense kept an opponent out of the end zone. WO-S limited Sweetwater to just 148 total yards.
“I tell you what, those guys on the defensive side were chomping at the bit to see an offense like this,” said Thompson. “We’ve played a Slot-T team for 10 weeks this year and trust me, that got old for the
kids after awhile. Their eyes lit up when we found out we were playing Sweetwater. Ten games and our opponents never reached the end zone, that right there is pretty salty.”
Meanwhile, the WO-S offense shook off a pair of tough turnovers as they were driving to score a couple times. WO-S finished with 312 total yards.
WO-S quarterback Jack Dallas, who was selected as the offensive MVP of the title game, completed 14-of-22 passes for 98 yards and an interception and ran for a score.
“It was a grind out there today,” said Dallas. “I just want to thank my teammates for lifting me up at certain points today. It’s such an unbelievable feeling to get back here and win one. My teammates, what more can I say, I love them. Us seniors, what a ride, it’s been such an amazing four years and it has gone by fast.”
Senior receiver/back Keion Hancock had a superb outing. He hauled in four receptions for 60 yards, threw a critical pass for 40 yards and rushed for 22 yards.
Tailback Jeremiah Shaw collected 90 yards on 13 carries and receiver Jay’len Matthews had four catches for 53 yards.
Mustang receiver and return man KJ Miller was thrilled with the win.
“Wow, it hasn’t really sunk in yet, I’m sure it will happen on the bus ride home,” said Miller. “We accomplished what we came here to do and it was a fight for sure. What a great way to end it, especially for the seniors. We’re just a tremendous family that knows how to get it done.”
Mustang senior lineman Te’Ron Brown was emotional as well.
“We came to do what we wanted to do,” said Brown. “We took a punch today early and got right back up and won it. I couldn’t be more proud right now. We’re going to be celebrating tonight and the celebration is going to go on for awhile. Can’t wait to get the trophy back to Orange.”
Linebacker Justin Brown, who sat out seven games due to a forearm injury, picked up Defensive MVP honors.
Sweetwater quarterback Chris Thompson was held in check. Thompson, who entered the game with 3,042 yards passing and 34 touchdowns along with 1,112 yards rushing and 24 TDs, was limited to 9-of-20 passing for 67 yards while rushing for just 39 yards on eight carries. Jacoby Hunt, a 1,000-yard back, was held to just 31 yards on 10 totes.
“We held a darn good football team in check today,” said Thompson.
“Coach (Shane) Mobley and his staff have done an excellent job. They had a good game-plan coming in and they have some athletes now. Our kids did a great job of keeping everything in front of them. I would like to credit Sweetwater’s defense too. They were the most physical bunch we’ve faced all year.”
Mobley was proud of his squad in defeat.
“Our kids never backed down or gave up the fight,” said Mobley. “We knew we had our work cut out for us coming into this but we battled and battled. West Orange-Stark, that’s an excellent team. They are back-to-back state champions for a reason. Coach (Cornel) Thompson and them do a great job with that program. This doesn’t take away from the great season we’ve had. All of our kids can hold their heads up high and so can our community.”
The Mustangs capitalized on a Sweetwater turnover to get on the board early in the third quarter, settling for a field goal.
WO-S defensive back Jarron Morris picked off a Thompson pass on the first play of the second half at the Sweetwater 20 and returned it to the 6. Sweetwater’s defense, however, stood tall, stopping the
Mustangs on third down from the four. Chad Dallas came in and drilled a 20-yard field goal to put WO-S up 10-6 with 10:14 remaining in the third.
WO-S put together a big drive late in the third quarter but came away empty when Sweetwater defensive back Kobe Clark picked off a Dallas pass in the back of the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter after the Mustangs drove from their own 38 all the way to the Sweetwater 11. On second-and-goal from the 11, Dallas was pressured and was just looking to throw the ball away but Clark was able to keep his feet in bounds to give his team the ball at the 20.
Three plays later, Sweetwater returned the favor when Thompson coughed up the ball to Mustang linebacker Ronald Carter at the Sweetwater 35.
The WO-S offense answered the bell with five straight running plays in what was a defining title drive.
Shaw cut up the gut for an 18-yard dart to the 17. Dallas kept it for six more. Kavyn Cooper carried twice for 10 yards, including a seven-yarder to the 1 and Dallas capped it with a one-yard sneak to put WO-S up 17-6 with 7:58 remaining.
Senior linebacker Justin Brown sealed it when he picked off a Sweetwater pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown with 5:38 remaining when Sweetwater attempted to go for it on fourth-and-3 from its 32.
After trying to find their footing after a tough turnover to open the game, the Mustangs regrouped offensively late in the second quarter to go into halftime with a 7-6 edge, despite outgaining Sweetwater
WO-S put together a eight-play, 89-yard drive, chewing 3:30 off the clock as Shaw capped it off with a two-yard touchdown blast up the middle. Kicker Chad Dallas drilled the extra-point, making it 7-6 with
0:29 in the half.
The drive certainly featured Hancock.
On first down, Hancock, working at WIldcat Quarterback, had a 16-yard keeper to the WO-S 27.
Two plays later, on second-and-8, Hancock rolled to the right, acting like he was going to run and then heaved a beautiful 40-yard pass to receiver Matthews along the right side to set up shop at the
Sweetwater 30. Hancock then hauled in a 14-yard reception from Dallas to the 16. Kavyn Cooper broke loose for an eight-yard gain to the 8 and Hancock snared a six-yard pass from Dallas to set up Shaw’s two-yard blast.
“That drive was huge going into the half,” said Thompson. “We moved the ball well in the half but stubbed ourselves in the toe a couple times. It was a nice momentum swing for sure.”
The Mustangs drove from their own 45 all the way down to the Sweetwater 1 on the first possession of the game, mixing the run and pass well as Dallas completed two passes for 24 yards and Shaw ran four times for 22 yards.
However, Dallas fumbled at the 3 and Sweetwater’s Luke James scooped it run and sprinted 97 yards, finding the right sideline, for a touchdown. The two-point conversion run failed as Sweetwater led 6-0 with 7:44 in the first quarter.
WO-S pinned Sweetwater back on its 1 after a great punt by Miller.
Sweetwater managed to get to the midfield before being thwarted.
WO-S outgained Sweetwater 74-44 in the first quarter.
WO-S held Sweetwater to a quick three-and-out early in the second quarter with WO-S getting the ball at its own 37 with 10:25 in the half.
Dallas had a tremendous scramble and was able to find Keion Hancock wide-open for a 21-yard gain to the Sweetwater 35. Facing third-and-3 from the 28, Dallas looked for Hancock, who was open in the end zone on the left side but defensive back Lowell Williams tipped the ball at the last second. Dallas then tried to find Hancock along the left side on fourth down that went incomplete.
Sweetwater came up with a nice drive but came away empty-handed, moving from its own 28 all the way down to the Mustang 11 in 11 plays.
Jordan McGee ran for a big 29-yard gain to the WO-S 43. Sweetwater kept the drive alive when defensive holding was called on WO-S as Sweetwater took it at the WO-S 16.
The Mustang defense held firm though, forcing Thompson into two straight completions by applying some heat on third and fourth down.
Dallas completed 10-of-16 passes in the first half for 78 yards.
Hancock caught four passes for 60 yards and two rushes for 19 more while Matthews grabbed four for 53 yards. Shaw had 35 yards on seven carries.
Thompson completed 6-of-15 passes for 47 yards. McGee had two catches for 13 yards and the one 29-yard rush.