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West Orange-Stark gets on hot roll once again

By Tom Halliburton

The News correspondent

Every year the challenge remains, and every year West Orange-Stark seems to have the answers.

The Mustangs clearly are positioned to claim their 11th district football title in 12 years with a 6-1 start and a 49-0 district-opening victory at Liberty.

Fifth-year head coach Cornel Thompson’s greatest need arguably is the same as it always is. WO-S could stand to have more depth, but the available talent can stack with anyone’s in District 9-4A’s Division II level.

The Mustangs found out they could hold their own against District 22-5A’s elite on Sept. 4 when they returned from The Reservation with a 28-14 over Port Neches-Groves.

Senior linebacker Steven Tims has anchored the “Chain Gang” defense, which has replaced plenty of 2014 experience with 2015 speed.

If Tims has led an effective defense, quarterback Jack Dallas has accomplished the same for an offense which has scored 48 points or more in four of seven outings.

WO-S sustained its only loss to Class 5A Richmond Foster in its fifth game, but five turnovers greatly contributed to the downfall in that 42-14 loss.

“We stressed to them that there was no reason to hold their heads down,” Thompson said. “We showed our youth at times in the Richmond Foster game and we’re still a young football team.”

Thompson’s units ranked first in 9-4A total offense and total defense through seven weeks. Senior Thomas Wallace and juniors Keion Hancock and Kentavious Miller had scored 30 points or more apiece.

Senior Melech Edwards and junior Jeremiah Shaw were averaging more than 6 yards a carry for a solid ground game. The passing accuracy of Dallas enabled WO-S to stay extremely balanced on offense during the non-district schedule. WO-S ran for 1,162 yards and threw for 1,147 yards prior to district play.

The Mustangs’ pass defense tied with Hamshire-Fannett for the league lead prior to league games with five interceptions each. Aric Cormier, Jarron Morris and Malick Phillips topped the team’s charts in that category.

Coming off last year’s 4A Division II state final appearance, the Mustangs have retained their customary respect in the Associated Press high school football poll. WO-S ranked No. 5 among 4A squads in the preseason, moving to third before dropping to seventh after its one regular-season loss and is now eighth.