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‘Stangs name longtime assistant Thompson head coach

There is little doubt that the committee to help select the next athletic director and head football coach at West Orange-Stark dotted their “i’s” and crossed their “t’s”.

Well, WO-S Superintendent James Colbert and the committee found a lot by crossing their “T’s”, because Mustang defensive coordinator Cornel Thompson, who many know as “Coach T”, was recommended Wednesday at the Carl Godwin Auditorium to replace long-time Coach Dan Hooks upon school board approval Monday night.

Hooks retired in mid-March after leading the Mustangs to a 277-71-2 mark, including two Class 4A state championships and two Class 4A state runnerups.

One constant in all of that was Thompson, who has guided the defense for so many years.

“I couldn’t be a prouder man then I am right now and this is the pinnacle,” said Thompson. “I know that so much went into this process and I really appreciate the committee, along with Mr. Colbert. This is a dream job for an old West Orange boy.”

Thompson knows things will be quite different without Coach Hooks on the scene when the 2011 campaign rolls around.

“I have a chance to lead one of the best programs the State of Texas has ever seen, and that’s all in due part to Coach Hooks,” said Thompson.

“We may think a lot different and we probably have different personalities, but that’s what enabled us to gel together so well over all these years. We were such a good mix. The tradition here is like no other and hopefully we can carry it on.”

Hooks was happy with the decision as well.

“Cornel is an excellent choice and it’s well-deserved,” said Hooks. “We could tell so many dang war stories of great games that we’ve been a part of together. He’s the best darn defensive coach I’ve ever been around.

“Cornel is a tremendous leader on and off the field and I think the kids are going to be so excited to hear about the news. The process that Mr. Colbert put forth was excellent. Kudos to the committee and everyone involved.”

Colbert felt that the committee came away with the right man.

“Coach Thompson is a tremendous selection and he fit all of the criteria that we had set in finding the next athletic director and head coach,” said Colbert. “Coach Thompson is a true representative of West Orange-Stark and the community that surrounds us. He’s a man of tremendous integrity. I find him as a very modest man and a straight-shooter. He’s so kid-focused and his passion, as Mustang fans have found out over the years, is like no other.”

    The district received more than 50 applicants for the post from three

different states. The two finalists were Thompson and former WO-S

assistant coach and track coach Verril Young, who is currently an

assistant at Port Arthur Memorial.

    “With me still being relatively new to the area, I was inundated with

calls and e-mails on who should be the next coach and why,” said

Colbert. “It was very interesting indeed. I’m learning more and more

each day. The passion our community has is incredible and I feel truly

blessed to be here.”