What was being promoted as a preview of a possible postseason clash never occurred last Friday. Lightning forced the cancellation of the game between West Orange-Stark and Jasper.
Coach Cornel Thompson evaluated the ramifications of the game being cancelled. It hurt the Mustangs not being able to play another game to prepare for the start of district. It was good though because it did allow a few players to heal from a physical game two weeks ago against Bridge City.
Jasper is expected to take care of their business in the coming weeks with their 30 seniors. It is hoped West Orange-Stark might still meet the Bulldogs later. Thompson predicted, “If we’ll take care of our business, we’ll get a chance down the road.”
This Friday’s game is against an opponent the Mustangs played twice last year the Silsbee Tigers. Thompson pointed out Silsbee returns as many as 20 seniors and most of the starters from that team that eliminated West Orange-Stark in the playoffs last season.
The Tigers are a multiple formation team on offense. They can run their offense with the quarterback under center in the I-Formation or shift into the Shotgun and play from the Spread Formation.
Most important according to Thompson is their “three-headed monster” in the backfield. Silsbee has three outstanding tailbacks in Chris Martin, Drayln Taylor, and Antonius Arline. They are the best group of runners in the district, and anyone of the three could be the best back the Mustangs will face this year. The trio rushed for over 3300 yards and 36 touchdowns last season.
The quarterback Raymond Foster is only a junior, but he was starter last season too for Silsbee passing for over twelve hundred yards and 18 touchdowns. “The last time we played them we didn’t fare very well against them in the rain at New Caney. They’ve got everybody back, and they’re a quality football team, and they’re picked to win our district,” Thompson observed.
Silsbee plays like tigers on defense. Thompson analyzed the defense for the Tigers. They are also multiple there playing some 50-Defense like the Mustangs, but then will shift into a four-man front and a 40-Defense.
The three star running backs are great athletes so they are called on to play in the defensive secondary for Silsbee. Another two-way player that is a stalwart on defense is Ayden Bell. He is a tight end on offense, but a tackle on defense. Bell will cause some disruption to opposing offenses.
Thompson believes athletically the Mustangs matched up pretty well with the Tigers last season. This year West Orange-Stark is much younger, and the coach thinks the team does not line up quite as well with Silsbee.
The Tigers are tested and return many of the players that advanced five rounds into the playoffs last year. Thompson stated, “They know what the game is about, so right out of the chute we’re playing for our lives in our district campaign.”
It is only the first game of the district. Coach Thompson said even if this game is the first one in district anyone wanting to claim the district championship will have to beat the Silsbee Tigers to win the title. He ranks this season’s district opponents as more competitive than in previous years.
The Hamshire-Fannett Longhorns are much improved in Thompson’s opinion. The Mustangs will play at Liberty, and that is always a tough place to face the Panthers. Even the Hardin-Jefferson Hawks are capable of pulling an upset on any team taking them too lightly. “I think we are all pretty even with the exception of Silsbee,” Thompson concluded.
The opening game of district between the West Orange-Stark Mustangs and the Silsbee Tigers will be Friday night. The contest starts at 7:30 PM in Silsbee.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-