West Orange-Stark advanced to the Regional Final with a win last week. The Mustangs beat the previously undefeated Bellville Brahmas, 36-17.
Coach Cornel Thompson gave an update on a trio of Mustangs Evan Gray, Jamaal Shaw, and Carmello Jones who have been injured in the post season. Several other players have minor issues as far as bumps and bruises at this point after twelve games have been played.
The coach acknowledges Gray’s injury was not a minor issue as he is coming off concussion protocol. Gray is working out with the team this week and should be ready to go. Shaw had a full day of practice on Tuesday and is good to go on Friday. Jones will also be ready to play in the game Friday night.
The philosophy at West Orange-Stark is only those players who are seriously injured will sit out a game in the post season. Thompson added, “The lame shall walk here in the playoffs.”
For the second year in a row the Mustangs will play the China Spring Cougars in the post season. Thompson analyzed the Cougars’ offense which operates out of the Spread. Their quarterback Major Bowden is the trigger man and the main cog for China Spring on offense.
Bowden was one of the stars in the Cougar’s 35-22 win last year against the Mustangs. He runs the quick trap and the lead option very well. Bowden is definitely the player the Mustangs must stop when China Spring has the football.
The Cougars’ offense relies heavily on Bowden to run the ball. He will occasionally throw short passes to Tre Hafford and Isaiah Williams in the flat or off of play action.
China Spring will only throw the ball if you make them throw it according to Thompson. “They’re going to run the football,” Thompson emphasized.
The Cougars use an even man front on defense which Coach Thompson described. They align in a 4-3 defensive scheme with a returning starter Dawson Exline who is very good in the front line.
The middle linebacker Brayden Faulkner is also the backup quarterback and is a good athlete. Hafford and Williams are both standouts in the China Spring defensive secondary as safeties. Thompson summarized, “Those are the primary players on their defense that are going to show up regularly.”
The Mustangs must go out and play their game for 48 minutes if they are to reverse the outcome of last year’s game with China Spring. They need to make their effort as mistake free as possible. Penalties hindered the Mustangs on offense in last year’s meeting putting them behind the chains on several occasions.
Defensively, West Orange-Stark is concentrating on playing assignment football to stop the option play used frequently by the Cougars. Their quarterback Bowden must be controlled.
The kicking game is the third phase and was won by the Cougars in the previous meeting with three muffed kicks by the Mustangs. The kicking game needs to be won by the Mustangs to assure a victory on Friday.
West Orange-Stark was handicapped by COVID protocol last year when it played China Spring. The Mustangs were eight players short because of contact with the Coronavirus.
China Spring took advantage of the Mustangs being shorthanded and built a big 35-7 lead before halftime last year. West Orange-Stark rallied shutting out the Cougars in the last two quarters, but still came up short 35-22 at the end of that game.
Thompson provided the key for the Mustangs to advance to next week’s state semi-final game. “We’ve got to play like we did in the second half last year this coming Friday night,” Thompson concluded.
The West Orange-Stark Mustangs will play the China Spring Cougars on Friday. The game will be carried live on KOGT and KOGT.com with the kickoff at 7:00 PM in Tomball ISD Stadium.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-