Stangs shut down Salado
By Van Wade
The Orange Leader
KATY – After battling a hard-nosed Salado team Friday night, the two-time defending Class 4A Division II state champion West Orange-Stark Mustangs find themselves just a win away from a chance at a possible three-peat.
The Mustangs made just enough plays and utilized a fierce defense to turn back the Eagles 14-0 in the 4A Region III Division II Finals at Katy’s Legacy Stadium.
The Mustangs will move on the face the Wimberley Texans in the State Semifinals next week. Wimberley (13-1) scored 20 unanswered points late in the second half to turn back Cuero (13-1) 44-36.
The win pushes the Mustangs’ winning streak to 39 straight games, with 16 of them being shutouts.
“We’re just so thrilled for the kids, they’ve worked so hard to get to this point,” said Mustang coach Cornel Thompson. “A lot of people didn’t have us pegged for being in the state semifinals again this year but the kids and the coaching staff believed it. This group of kids, they’re overachievers and they flat-out got it done again. We don’t care about stats, at this point it’s all about advancing and moving on.”
The Mustangs (12-0) limited the Eagles (12-2) to just 172 total yards and five first downs. Salado mustered just 45 total yards in the second half.
WO-S held the Eagles vaunted Slot-T offense to just 46 rushing yards on 32 carries. It was an offense that featured three 1,000-yard backs in Trey Sheppard, Aaron Torczynski and Cade DePoy.
Salado quarterback Hayden Haire completed 6-of-15 passes for 126 yards. DePoy caught two passes for 103 yards.
The Mustangs totaled 232 yards against a tough Eagles’ defensive unit.
“We’ve had some success at stopping the Slot-T over the years and we were able to stone them pretty good tonight,” said Thompson. “We knew they were capable of hitting the big pass play though and they got us there a few times. We made some nice adjustments at the half, just super proud of the defensive team. That Salado team is no slouch.”
Mustang quarterback Chaka Watson rushed for 68 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown and completed 7-of-14 passes for 78 yards.
Mustang 1,000-yard rusher Kayven Cooper was held to 38 yards on 12 carries but scored the game’s first touchdown. Receiver Mark Thibodeaux had four catches for 28 yards and tight end Jaylon Mims had two receptions for 30 yards.
“Offensively, we made some plays when we had too,” said Thompson. “Salado played excellent on defense too and our offensive line struggled at times. Chaka made a couple big throws, especially on that first scoring drive and then he had that big touchdown run late that sealed the deal.”
The Mustangs chewed up 5:46 of the clock but came away empty-handed early in the fourth quarter.
WO-S started at their own 32 with 5:18 in the third and went all the way to the Eagle 4 before stalling.
Watson had a 29-yard run up the middle to the Salado 39 and back Justin Sibley had a 10-yard gallop to the 30.
On fourth-and-9 from the 28, Watson was able to complete a sharp 17-yard pass over the middle to tight end Jaylon Mims to the Eagle 11.
Cooper had a five-yard run to the 6 and a two-yard run to the 4 but he was stuffed for a one-yard loss on third down. The Mustangs elected to go for a 22-yard field goal by kicker Chad Dallas but it went just wide right with 11:28 remaining.
Dallas would get even though when he pinned the Eagles all the way back to their 1 with a 51-yard punt with 8:05 remaining.
“That was a big punt,” echoed Thompson. “Our special team was much-improved from last week, especially in kick and punt coverage.”
The Eagles went a quick three-and-out and Mustang Jarron Morris was able to return a punt 16 yards to the Eagle 24.
The Mustangs would score five plays later.
Morris would rush for eight yards and Cooper for 6 that got to the Eagle 10.
On second-and-10 Watson was stopped for no gain but Salado coach Alan Haire was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and the Mustangs got a first down at the 5. On the next play, Watson flashed around the right side, hitting the pylon for a five-yard score. Dallas booted the extra-point for a 14-0 lead with 3:57 remaining.
The Mustangs ended the Salado threat when Tyshon Watkins sacked Haire at the Eagle 6 and Haire fumbled the ball over to Davien Teate with 1:51 remaining.
WO-S survived three big pass plays by the run-oriented Eagles in the first 24 minutes as the Mustangs held a 7-0 lead at intermission.
The Eagles outgained the Mustangs 127-103 in the first half but did it in a odd fashion as Haire completed 4-of-9 passes for 128 yards with DePoy hauling in two of them for 103 yards. Meanwhile, the WO-S defense held the Eagles’ potent ground attack to a minus one yard on 21 carries.
Watson completed 4-of-11 passes in the half for 50 yards and rushed for 29 yards on six carries and helped engineer a solid nine-play, 54-yard scoring drive.
The Mustangs stopped the Eagles on their first possession at the Eagle 40 and Salado nailed a 49-yard punt that went to the Mustang 11.
However, the Eagles were called for holding and had to punt again and the Mustangs were able to get better field position at their own 46 with 6:39 left in the first quarter.
The Mustangs would find paydirt nine plays later.
Watson teamed up with receiver Mark Thibodeaux on a 13-yard gain to the Salado 41. A couple Mustang penalties made it first-and-25 at their own 44.
Watson completed a pass to tight end Jaylon Mims that went for 13 yards to the Eagle 43 and on fourth-and-6 from the 37, Watson was able to snare a first down with a seven-yard gallop to the 30.
The big play came when Watson swung a pass along the right side to Jarron Morris and the speedster did the rest, cutting it to the opposite side down the left sideline for a 20-yard gain to the Eagle 9.
Two plays later Cooper rumbled off right tackle for a five-yard touchdown jaunt. Chad Dallas drilled the extra-point to give the Mustangs a 7-0 edge with 2:03 remaining in the first quarter.
On the next series, the Eagles drove far but came away empty-handed.
They moved the ball from their own 25 all the way down to the Mustang 9.
Salado caught the Mustang defense off guard when Haire completed a 61-yard pass over the middle and over the top to DePoy that got all the way to the Mustang 9.
Haire completed a nine-yard pass to receiver Wade Woods over the middle for what would have been a touchdown but the Eagles were called for an illegal formation.
The Mustangs held the Eagles down and with 11:16 remaining in the half, Salado kicker Jake Walrath attempted a 28-yard field goal that went wide right.
The Eagles missed out on another big opportunity late in the half.
Haire and DePoy hooked up again on a superb 42-yard pitch and catch down the left sideline that went all the way to the Mustang 38. Then on third-and-12 from the 40, Haire and Torczynski teamed up on a 22-yard screen pass down the right side that reached the Mustang 18.
On fourth-and-5 from the 13, the Eagles got a reprieve when Haire’s pass went incomplete to DePoy in the end zone but the Mustangs were called for holding, setting up first-and-goal from the 6.
The Mustang defense then stuffed runs by DePoy and Torczynski. Salado elected to go for it on fourth down from the 12 but the snap went over Haire’s head all the way back to the 35 for a 23-yard loss with 1:47 in the half.
WO-S 7 0 0 7— 14
Salado 0 0 0 0 —0
WO-S: Kayven Cooper 5 run. Chad Dallas kick.
WO-S: Chaka Watson 5 run. Dallas kick.
First downs 12 5
Rushes-yards 34-154 32-46
Passing 78 126
Total yards 232 172
Comp-Att-Int 7-14-0 6-15-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 10-56 5-28
Rushing: WO-S, Chaka Watson 14-68, Kayven Cooper 12-38, Jarron Morris 3-23, Justin Sibley 5-25; Salado, Cade DePoy 11-47, Trey Sheppard 10-14, Aaron Torczynski 8-11, Hayden Haire 2-(-3), Team 1-(-23).
Passing: WO-S, Chaka Watson 7-14-0 78, Jarron Morris 0-1-0 0; Salado, Hayden Haire 6-15-0 126
Receiving: WO-S, Mark Thibodeaux 4-28, Jaylon Mims 2-30, Jarron Morris 1-20; Salado, Cade DePoy 2-103, Aaron Torczynski 2-26, Trey Sheppard 2-(-3).