Mustangs, Tigers brace for Regional title test

Published 8:59 am Wednesday, December 4, 2019

It will be a Class 4A Region III Division II Finals that many football fans across Southeast Texas have anticipated way back before the season started.

For the second straight season, it will be the West Orange-Stark Mustangs (10-1) taking on the Silsbee Tigers (8-4) for the right to advance to the 4A Division II State Semifinals.

The two will battle at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at BISD Memorial Stadium.

It certainly will not be the first “rodeo” between these two programs.

It will mark the 29th meeting in the history of the rival. The Mustangs can certainly be proud of their all-time series lead of 24-4 but there are certainly some “demons” they would like to shake off against the Tigers.

WO-S is 0-2 in the playoffs against the Tigers. The Mustangs dropped a 19-9 decision in the Region III Finals last season to the Tigers, a loss that ended the Mustangs’ streak of advancing to the 4A Division II State Championship Game for four straight years. Also, in 1998 a 10-0 Mustang team fell to a 6-4 Tiger team in the bidistrict round.

Just like they did in 2018, WO-S defeated Silsbee in District 10-4A Division II play this season 17-9 in Silsbee as the Mustangs went on to win the district title again.

Both teams enter the contest with big regional semifinal wins last week as the Mustangs slowed down Bellville 24-14 and the Tigers dropped Giddings 35-14 after trailing 14-0 in the first half.

Just like last season, the Tigers got off to a slow start. They dropped their opener to Port Neches-Groves (48-35) and fell to Newton (52-21). They bounced back to topple Nederland (43-27) and Lumberton (24-12) before falling to Longview Spring Hill (41-27). They then lost to WO-S 17-9 in their 10-4A opener. Since then, the Tigers have reeled off six straight victories.

Silsbee wrapped up 10-4A play with victories over Hardin-Jefferson (58-24), Liberty (38-12) and Hamshire-Fannett (27-21) before entering the postseason fray.

In the playoffs, the Tigers have been red-hot with explosive wins over Shepherd (52-13), Smithville (45-13) and Giddings. The Tigers have outscored their oppo0nents 414-294 for the season.

There is no secret what the Tigers like to do and that’s to use their speed with their running game featuring a trio of fast and hard-running backs that include 1,000-yard rushers Chris Martin and Dralyn Taylor along with Antonius Arline.

Taylor was the workhorse against Giddings as he poured out 162 yards and three touchdowns and also had two interceptions on defense. He had 130 yards and two TDs in the playoff win over Smithville and 106 yards and a TD on 10 carries against Shepherd.

Martin has tremendous breakaway speed and can take it to the “house” at any moment. Against Smithville, he shredded the defense for 248 yards and three TDs on 15 carries and ran for 172 yards and two scores on just six totes against Shepherd.

Meanwhile, Arline gives the Tigers a change of pace and in the three Tiger playoff victories he has chewed up 189 yards on 28 carries.

Quarterback Raymond Foster gives the Tigers another dimension. He likes to swing passes to his running backs along with getting the ball to receiver K’drian Cartwright. Foster completed 12-of-22 passes for 129 yards against Giddings last week.

Silsbee will face a Mustang defense that is allowing just 194.2 yards a game, 116.4 on the ground and 77.8 in the air. WO-S allowed 254 yards to Bellville last week, 99 of it coming on the Brahmas’ last series of the game.

The Mustangs have been motoring through the playoffs and are riding an eight-game winning streak since falling to Newton 20-14 on Sept. 13.

WO-S has outscored their three playoff opponents Huntington (56-7), La Grange (42-14) and Bellville by a 122-35 margin.

The Mustangs had 343 total yards in the win over Bellville, which is their season average per game.

WO-S junior quarterback Jerren Terrell has been steady throughout the playoffs. He has completed 96-of-163 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Mustang sophomore tailback Elijah Gales continues to churn out the yards. He had 156 yards and a pair of scores on 22 carries against Bellville and now has 1,232 yards and 23 TDs on 147 carries for the season.

Ja Quailon Chaney and Jayson Zeigler, Jr. have combined for 575 yards and five TDs on 88 carries.

Zeigler, Jr. leads the Mustangs with 21 catches for 187 yards and three TDs. Jalen Thompson has made some huge grabs in the postseason and now has 13 catches for 256 yards and four TDs.

When the two squads met back on Oct. 11 in the 10-4A opener, it was quite the defensive battle.

WO-S held Silsbee to 202 total yards, 150 on the ground and 52 in the air. Taylor had 76 yards and a TD on 13 carries. Martin had 42 yards on 10 totes and Arline had 35 yards on nine carries. Foster completed just 4-of-18 passes and was picked off three times.

Silsbee limited the Mustangs to only 235 yards, 148 in the air and just 87 on the ground. Terrell completed 11-of-19 passes for 148 yards with Zeigler, Jr. catching six passes for 63 yards. Gales had 61 yards on 11 carries.

All tickets for Friday’s game will be $10 at the gate on the night of the game. The game will mark the ninth straight trip to at least the regional finals for the Mustangs under head coach Cornel Thompson.

The WO-S-Silsbee winner will face either Navarro (13-0) or Wimberely (10-3) in the 4A Division II State Semifinals next week.