Mustangs, Indians set to go for 48 minutes
Published 11:57 pm Thursday, August 11, 2016
WEST ORANGE — Tonight might only be a “glorified practice” in West Orange-Stark coach Cornel Thompson’s mind, but he also knows any time a game is played at The Reservation, it’s a game.
The defending Class 4A Division II champion Mustangs face the Port Neches-Groves Indians at 7 p.m. in both team’s first scrimmage.
WOS and PNG faced off last year in non-district action, and the Mustangs left The Reservation with a 28-14 victory.
The points will not count tonigh,t but Thompson is excited the scrimmage features four, 12-minute periods.
“I play every one of our scrimmages just like games,” Thompson said. “I want 48 minutes, and if you don’t want to play me for 48 minutes then I will find someone else. Coach (Brandon) Faircloth was nice enough. Even though we are coming to his yard, we are going to scrimmage for 48 minutes on the turf. I like to take the kids on turf early in the year. It’s a big deal early because they take football serious over there at PNG.”
Anywhere the Mustangs play these days is a big deal. WOS returns 17 starters from last year’s state title team, including the offensive MVP from the championship game, quarterback Jack Dallas.
Dallas threw for 3,112 yards and 38 touchdowns as a junior.
“It has felt like we never stopped from Dec. 18,” Dallas said referring to the date of the Mustangs 22-3 win over Celina at NRG Stadium in Houston. “We are all in-sync and we are looking good. We still have a lot of things to improve on but we are on a good pace right now.”
PNG, even though it is a scrimmage, has to contend with a very stout WOS defense. Linebacker Justin Brown led the Mustangs with 192 tackles last year, defensive tackle Jalon Powdrill had 152 and lineman Mandel Turner-King finished with 90 tackles.
One thing Dallas and his teammates are trying to do is put the past in the rearview mirror, no matter how hard that might seem.
“Each and every one of these guys still has a goal,” Dallas said. “We are trying to win one more state championship. None of the wins, none of the losses and none of the points in the past will help us this year. We realize that. We come out and work like we still have something to prove and we do still have something to prove.”
So what can a guy like Dallas still have to prove after reaching back-to-back state finals in his two years on the varsity team?
“To get another state title,” Dallas added.
Thompson said he has talked to his team a few times about forgetting what happened last year.
“I don’t want to hear our players talk about anyone but Nederland,” Thompson said about the Mustangs’ first non-district game on Aug. 26. “That is the No. 1 game we are opening up with and it will be a packed house here. Last year is last year. I told the players when I sit in a car, I look forward and I don’t look where I have been. I like to see where I am going. That is the bottom line here.”
Gabriel Pruett: 721-2436. Twitter: @PaNewsGabe