Mustangs, Tigers should battle for 10-4A supremacy

Published 10:17 am Friday, July 19, 2019

For years and years, the West Orange-Stark Mustangs have had a bulls eye on them, whether it has been non-district, district or the playoffs.

After all, the Mustangs have won eight straight district titles, been to eight straight Class 4A regional finals and, of course, there is that streak they had of four straight trips to the Class 4A Division II state title games and two state titles.

Last year, the Mustangs won another District 10-4A Division II crown and advanced to the 4A Division II Region III Finals yet again. However, they ran into a roadblock there as the Mustangs fell to 10-4A rival Silsbee 19-9.

So, really, who has the bull eye on them this season?

Is it the Mustangs, who have dominated the district for years? Or is it the Silsbee Tigers, who have a slew of talent returning?

Fans will be waiting for awhile to see who comes out on top of this 10-4A Division II loop. The Mustangs and Tigers won’t hook up until Oct. 11 in Silsbee for the first 10-4A game of the season.

The last team to knock the Mustangs off the top of a district perch were the Tigers in 2009 when they defeated the Mustangs 13-7 in Silsbee.

The Mustangs defeated the Tigers in a 24-21 nailbiter to win the 10-4A title a season ago. The Mustangs lead the all-time series 23-4.

However, one game in district does not make or break a team. The Mustangs and Tigers will still have to try to navigate past Hamshire-Fannett, Liberty and Hardin-Jefferson to snag the crown.

The Mustangs (9-5) return as a young team with four starters back on each side of the ball.

Coach Cornel Thompson and Co. will look for quarterback Jerren Terrell, who split time last year, to step in and handle the quarterback chores.

Sophomore running back Elijah Gales was superb in the back half of the season on offense and defense. He rushed for 449 yards and five touchdowns, a lot of that coming in WO-S’ playoff run.

The Mustangs will have a formidable line to work behind in the forms of all-district picks Quincy Ledet, Jordan Garrett and Darby Jones. WO-S will be looking for a few more young backs and receivers to step to the forefront.

The defense will be anchored by all-district linebacker Tyrone Brown and defensive tackle Shemar Manaway.

Silsbee (10-5), which returns seven offensive starters, is loaded at the skill positions for Coach Randy Smith with the return of quarterback Raymond Foster, who passed for 1,270 yards and 18 TDs along with the trio of backs Dralyn Taylor, Chris Martin and Antonius Arline, who teamed up for 3,382 yards on the ground and 36 TDs.

Linebacker Dillon Tarver and defensive lineman Samuel Roundtree look to spearhead a young Tiger defense.

The Liberty Panthers (7-5) have had a nice run the past three years and will look to punch in yet another playoff ticket for coach Chad Taylor.

The Panthers welcome back six starters on offense and five on defense.

Liberty welcomes back most of its offensive line and should be sparked by quarterback Austin Walker and running back Johnny Harris-Hines.

The defense will turn to defensive end Devin Fregia and defensive back Elishia Chambers to lead the way.

The Hamshire-Fannett Longhorns (5-6) found their way into the postseason last year and coach Mark Waggoner has seven starters returning on each side of the ball.

The Longhorns possibly have the most versatile weapon in the district in quarterback Marcus Morris. Morris rushed for 1,569 yards and 16 TDs and passed for 1,240 yards and 13 TDs last year. The Longhorns also return four starters along the offensive line.

The defense is sparked by all-district safeties Evan Viator (103 tackles, four interceptions) and Anakin Hall (99 tackles).

The Hardin-Jefferson Hawks will look to rebound after a 2-8 season and 0-4 district mark behind coach Dwayne DuBois.

The cupboard is far from bare in Hawk Country as 16 starters return to the mix, including 10 on offense.

Quarterback Collin Pomirko and Westen Nugent will look to lead the Slot-T offense and will look to get the ball to backs Izaak Whitman, Kevin Borque, Brayden Martel, Dillon Bryant, Brock Nevils and Sam Dickerson.

Whitman will look to power the Hawk defense as well and the Hawks are loaded in the trenches.

When it is all said and done, the 10-4A crown should be decided come Oct. 11 when the Mustangs venture to Tiger Country.

Football fans, get your popcorn ready.