Revenge in sight? Indians try to turn tide vs. Mustangs

Published 12:22 am Friday, September 4, 2015

Tonight, West Orange-Stark coach Cornel Thompson could find out a lot more about his football team — and Port Neches-Groves.

In what he considers a rebuilding year, can the Mustangs show their championship resolve and give the Indians some trouble at The Reservation? Or will the youth hurt the Mustangs?

“They’ve got a number of people back with experience, and here we are with 21 juniors who haven’t had a lot of varsity experience,” Thompson said. “The only offensive returner we have is our quarterback [Jack Dallas]. … Our offensive line is a work in progress.”

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The way PN-G exploded on offense against Clear Lake six days ago, offense might not be Thompson’s only worry.

The Indians are more experienced on that side of the ball and will try to follow-up a 484-yard showing that saw Adam Morse throw for five touchdowns.

Receiver Jack Giblin is back in good health and showed it last Saturday. Kody Cropper’s versatility as a rusher and receiver out of the backfield could give the Mustangs some problems. He scored the first three touchdowns last weekend.

Thompson also named PN-G receivers Keynel McZeal and Caisen Sullivan as guys his defenders must keep their eyes on.

Although WO-S has the upper hand in this rivalry, Thompson believes the task could be greater this time. Defensively, the Indians are coming off a three-interception performance and look to keep Dallas guessing all night.

The Mustangs’ defense had some success a week ago against Little Cypress-Mauriceville, but there were some breakdowns that left Thompson concerned.

“Defensively, we’ve been pretty fair over the years, but we are truly rebuilding this year,” he said, his defense boasting only four returning starters. “We need to come together quickly as a defensive unit, and hopefully we’ll play better this week.”

Offensively, WO-S has its own chore against PN-G, which held Clear Lake to 60 yards total in a 52-0 win. The Indians could give junior Dallas, a second-year starter, his biggest task since last year’s 4A Division II state final loss to Gilmer.

PN-G coach Brandon Faircloth could not be reached for this article, but he, too, was looking for improvements from his team despite a sparkling result at Clear Lake.

“Really thrilled with the result,” Faircloth said after that game. “There were also some first-game mistakes. Definitely too many penalties and a lot of things we can get better at. The great thing is when there is a great result, there is also a long way to go. We just have to continue to have great practices.”

Dallas has thrived in big games before. He started the 2014 season as the junior varsity quarterback, but he moved up after one quarterback transferred and another was dismissed from the team for disciplinary reasons.

“To make it with your third quarterback and a sophomore, that was phenomenal,” Thompson said.

But how the Mustangs move the ball down the field could rely heavily on how their O-line handle the Indians.

“We’ll go as our offensive line goes, so we’ve got to get them shored up,” Thompson said, adding he’s switching a couple of starters from last week’s game up front.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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