An old rivalry was renewed last week between West Orange-Stark and the Jasper Bulldogs. The Mustangs won the defensive battle 20-7.
Coach Cornel Thompson admitted it was one of the most physical games in the series between the two teams. The Mustangs played hard and so did the Bulldogs. Thompson attributed the intensity of the contest to the history of the rivalry.
West Orange-Stark rallied to win the game and advanced to the next round of the state playoffs. Thompson believes, “It boiled down to the fact we stayed in the fight longer.”
The Mustangs earned the right to play the Bellville Brahmas this week. Thompson described the Bellville offense which emphasizes the running game as an old school Slot-T football team. It is not a true Slot-T according to Thompson, it is more of a power running game which they try to run over opponents. The Brahmas also run sweeps and counters outside.
The two runners the Mustangs must stop or at least slow down are seniors and three-year starters Richard Reese and Robert Briggs. Both have already committed to play college football, Reese at Baylor and Briggs at Utah State.
Reese has carried the ball for 2,174 yards and 34 touchdowns this season. Briggs has gained 1,366 yards with 22 touchdowns. “We’re going to have to deal with those guys,” Thompson warned.
Bellville has dominated this season with its offense, but Coach Thompson said they do have some young men that play defense too. The Brahmas use the 4-3 alignment on defense similar to the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears.
Briggs is a standout on defense as well at the left cornerback position. In the forcing unit up front a trio of Brahmas concern Thompson. Tackle Marcus Smith is just a junior, as is right end Cole Powell, and inside linebacker Landon Lischka all give quality to the Bellville defense.
Bellville is well coached on defense, and the Brahmas will present some problems for the Mustangs’ offense. The 4-3 is a defensive front West Orange-Stark has only faced against the LC-M Bears in Week 2 of the season.
The coach admitted nobody wins just with an alignment. Thompson added, “You win with people, and they’ve got some people that can play the game.”
West Orange-Stark is riding a ten-game winning streak. Bellville is undefeated in its twelve games this season. One of those streaks will end this week while the other team will advance to the regional finals next week.
Thompson reminded as always that to win a playoff game the Mustangs must be better than the Brahmas in at least two of the three phases of the game; offense, defense, and kicking. The two teams have different approaches to the kicking game with Cristian Quiteno Polio handling all the kicking duties for the Mustangs, while the Brahmas use three separate kickers for extra points, kickoffs, and punting.
The price of poker has gone up according to Thompson for the Mustangs to stay alive in the playoffs. The level of difficult has been multiplied and is always greater the further a team advances in the post season which is sudden death from this point on for everyone except the eventual state champions.
The Mustangs and Bellville have met three times before in the playoffs in previous seasons with West Orange-Stark winning all three. “No doubt in my mind this is the best of the group. The running backs have grown up, they’ve matured, and this is one of the better Bellville football teams,” Thompson concluded.
The West Orange-Stark Mustangs play the Bellville Brahmas on Friday. The game will be carried live on KOGT from Randall Reed Stadium in New Caney with the kickoff at 6:00 PM.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-