WO-S early 10-4A favorite as Silsbee will enter fray

Published 9:56 am Monday, July 16, 2018

It just wouldn’t be the same if the West Orange-Stark Mustangs did not have a bulls eye on their jerseys when their district season starts.

However, it’s something the Mustangs have worn well. After all, they have not dropped a single district game since 2009 on a sloppy, muddy field in Silsbee.

A lot of history has been made since, including four straight trips to the Class 4A Division II State Championship Games, including back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016.

In the last four seasons, the Mustangs (13-1 last season) compiled an amazing 57-5 record, including a massive 40-game winning streak that ended in December with a loss to Pleasant Grove in the state title tilt.

The Mustangs outscored opponents 1,781-259 in that 40-game streak with the average score being 44.5-6.5. In the playoffs, not much changed as WO-S outpointed the opposition 717-151 with the average tune being 42.2-8.9.

WO-S head coach Cornel Thompson’s seven years at the helm, the Mustangs have a 91-12 mark (.883 winning percentage) with four state appearances, two titles and have made the 4A Division II Region III Finals all seven years.

In 41 years since West Orange and Stark merged, the Mustangs have averaged 9.7 wins a season, eight state title appearances and four crowns with just one losing season.

With those lofty marks, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine has tabbed the Mustangs as the preseason No. 1 team in 4A Division II and, of, course, predicted them to win District 10-4A Division II.

The Mustangs have plenty of work ahead of them though before district, including a typical brutal non-district schedule.

The Mustangs return just seven starters, three on offense and four on defense.

WO-S returns standout running back and linebacker Kavyn Cooper, who will look to have a huge senior campaign after zipping for 815 yards, nine touchdowns and making 93 tackles on defense. He and fellow standout back Justin Sibley will still get to run behind veteran linemen Jacorry Brady and Quincy Ledet as WO-S will look for a young quarterback to try to fill the shoes of Chaka Watson.

Defensively, defensive backs Teshaun Teel and Ja’Vonn Ross, both all-district selections, will help to try and lead a young defensive unit as well.

The last team to defeat the Mustangs in a district tilt, the Silsbee Tigers, have made the move down to 4A Division II after having plenty of success in Division I. Dave Campbell’s have the Tigers ranked No. 4 in the state in Division II.

Coach Randy Smith welcomes back 12 starters, eight of them on a defense that helped pave the way to the No. 1 playoff seed out of their Division I district a season ago.

The Tigers will also look to break in a new quarterback but have a superb running back tandem of Christopher Martin and Dralyn Taylor, who combined for 1,900 yards last year.

The Tigers will have some strong leadership on defense with the return of linebacker Spencer Uribe (90 tackles), lineman Dolen Keenan (eight sacks) and speedy defensive back Aaron Sells.

The Liberty Panthers will look to spoil the Mustangs and Tigers plans after another solid campaign last season in which they went 8-3 and placed second behind WO-S in district.

Coach Chad Taylor returns 13 starters, six on offense and seven on defense.

The Panthers have two of the most versatile playmakers returning to spark their double-wing attack in Jeremiah Guillory and J.J. Slack.

Guillory zipped for 1,448 yard and 19 TDs while Slack accounted for 1,312 yards and 10 TDs. Slack is a beast on both sides of the ball after also making 78 tackles and three interceptions.

Keegan Turner and Wesley Scott, who combined for 130 tackles and seven sacks, spearhead an experienced defense.

The Hardin-Jefferson Hawks made the playoffs last season despite a 2-6 overall mark and a 1-3 mark in district play.

H-J has installed some old “new” blood as former coach Dwayne DuBois is back to lead the way.

DuBois left H-J to coach Bridge City three years and led the Cardinals to a 2016 district title and three rounds into the playoffs.

DuBois coached the Hawks in 2013 and 2014, going 19-7 and two straight trips to the third round of the postseason.

DuBois welcomes back four starters on each side of the ball, including starting quarterback Collin Pomirko. Izaak Whitman and Dillon Bryant look to be solid backs as H-J will look to rebuild on the defensive side of the leather.

The Hamshire-Fannett Longhorns have had their struggles in recent years and went winless in district play a season ago.

New coach Mark Waggoner will see the return of a district-high 14 starters, seven on each side of the ball.

Speedy quarterback Marcus Morris will look to pave the way for a program looking to get back on its feet along with fullback and linebacker Blaine Waggoner.

When it is all said and done, the district will likely come down to a big showdown between the Mustangs and the Tigers come Oct. 12 at Hooks Stadium. Get the turkey legs and popcorn ready.