Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Mustangs travel to Newton

The West Orange-Stark Mustangs suffered a rare loss last week and now must travel to Newton to face the always tough Eagles. This week is the last game before district begins next week for the Mustangs.

The size of the opponent is always secondary to West Orange-Stark as the Mustangs play everybody tough regardless of the other team's classification. The Port Neches-Groves Indians are two classifications larger than West Orange-Stark and defeated the Mustangs 26-7 last Friday.

Size was a factor in the Indians beating the Mustangs according to Coach Hiawatha Hickman of West Orange-Stark. "We ran into a real big physical bunch with Port Neches-Groves. We took the pass away from them early, picked off some balls early, and that probably was the worst thing we could do because the Indians decided they were just going to use two tight ends and run it right at us, and we had a hard time stopping the run," Hickman recalled.

The Mustangs' offense also struggled against the larger PNG defense. Hickman reported, "We tried to run the ball early and didn't run the ball. We started throwing it and that's just not our identity. It's a learning experience. It's never as good as you think it is, never as bad as you think it is. It is something we're going to have to learn from moving forward."

Defensive tackle Makelon Sells played well for the Mustangs. Jamaal Shaw had his first interception of the year and several tackles.

Offensively Dakarion Judge caught a touchdown pass. Quarterback Keyshawn Robinson did some running, but Coach Hickman commented the Indians did a good job of containing Robinson most of the night. "It just wasn't a good night for the Mustangs," Hickman added.

West Orange-Stark plays an opponent from a lower classification this Friday in Newton but nobody is taking anything for granted when the Mustangs play the Eagles. This has been a solid rivalry for the last several years.

Just as tradition has been a strong part of the football program at West Orange-Stark the same is true with the Newton Eagles. The offense has not changed in years with the Wing T. The Eagles will run a lot of traps to fool opposing defenses.

A leader for Newton is Maliek Woods at quarterback who was all-district last season for the Eagles. Woods is very fast and shifty with the football.

The power back for the Eagles is Leighton Foster. He accounted for twelve offensive touchdowns in 2021.

The Newton offensive line is bigger than it usually is. This may be the best group of offensive linemen for the Eagles in the last few seasons.

There is speed all through the Newton offense. Hickman described, "It'll be another challenge for us. It's typical Newton, they're fast, they're quick, but they are a lot like us with a lot of guys playing both ways. It'll be a typical old east Texas dog fight."

The defense at Newton like its offense has not been changed in probably decades. The Newton Seven Diamond is still the base but the Eagles will shift into multiple fronts and use various blitzes.

There are almost always seven Eagles in the box to stop the run with four defensive backs in man coverage to guard against the pass. The speed and skill of its secondary personnel allows Newton to stack the box against the run.

As they have done in the past in games against Newton, the Mustangs will try to throw the football against the Eagles including some long balls. "We're going to try to take some shots, you've got to with that defense. They are bringing everybody with man-to-man coverage across the board you've got to hit some passes deep. You've got to hit some stuff in the middle of the field and try to run the ball up the middle against them, but again they're fast and they're quick," Hickman reminded.

Leighton Foster is a standout on defense too at middle linebacker. Foster was the winner of the Willie Ray Smith Award last year for his play on defense and was voted the district MVP by the coaches.

Maliek Woods plays one of the cornerbacks and is outstanding. He had five interceptions last season.

The defensive interior is strong with Dylan Isaac one of the leaders there. Hickman repeatedly said the Eagles look a lot like the Mustangs with a bunch of athletes with a lot of speed flipping over from playing offense to also playing on defense.

Non-district is not meant to be a cake walk for the Mustangs. Hickman explained, "It's just another step getting us where we need to be. When I made the schedule in the Spring this game is another one to polish us and get us ready for next week when it really counts when we go to Silsbee." The district schedule does begin for the Mustangs in a week against the Silsbee Tigers one of the other favorites along with West Orange-Stark to be district champions.

This week the focus for the Mustangs is getting back on the winning track against Newton. "All you can do is go to practice and back to work to get back to the basics back to what football is all about which is blocking and tackling. We've got to do that better. We play this schedule for a reason and we don't back away from it. We'll see what we're made of. They say you learn a lot from losses. Those first two wins maybe we didn't see some of the things that were exposed last Friday night against PNG. We're going to take it as a learning experience. Our goal is to be the winner at the end," Hickman concluded.

The West Orange-Stark Mustangs will battle the Newton Eagles on Friday night. The game is scheduled for 7:30 PM in Newton.


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