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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

Mustangs take on top ranked Silsbee

 

Last updated 9/19/2023 at 12:04pm

The first four weeks this year are following an eerily similar path to the same time last season for West Orange-Stark. The hope is that will change this week with the start of district action for the Mustangs.

Just like a year ago after opening with two wins the Mustangs have dropped their last two games. The Newton Eagles rallied to come from behind 58-54 to beat West Orange-Stark the loss evened the season record for the Mustangs at two and two.

WOS Coach Hiawatha Hickman knew both the Mustangs and the Eagles could put points on the board but never thought they would combine for over one hundred points. "The Eagles did some things that they normally do and some things they don't combining a little bit of it. We tried to make adjustments, and some of the adjustments we made worked and some didn't work. The Eagles made some plays, we didn't tackle well, we could have tackled a lot better. The Mustangs were on their heels all night, and once it got rolling it was hard to stop. We've just got to put that game behind us and get ready because we've got another juggernaut coming in here this week," Hickman added.

Offensively the Mustangs may have played as well as they possibly could. Hickman confirmed, "Marcus (Turner) had another great night. Taydren Perrault had a coming out night with over 150 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Andrew Cooper had a good night at receiver catching a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Also, the freshman Khelvy Jefferson had a good night rushing the ball for almost a hundred yards. All our bright spots were on offense."

A few Mustangs did go down early in the game with injuries which exposed some depth problems for the West Orange-Stark defense. One of those positions is strong safety where a third stringer played against Newton because of injuries. Some good news is that Amyrian Scott should be back this week as the starter at strong safety after being out the last two weeks.

The juggernaut Hickman referred to are the Silsbee Tigers the Mustangs' next opponent on Friday. Silsbee is ranked number one in the state for Class 4A Division II with four impressive wins against teams from Class 4A Division I or even Class 5A, and they beat West Orange-Stark last season in the district opener.

The number one player for the Tigers wears the number one on his jersey Dre'lon Miller. "Dre'lon is a five star prospect, all-state, all-American receiver, everything starts with him. He's one of those guys that's special. He's just better than most of the other players on the field. We're going to have to do somethings specifically to try to limit his touches," Hickman praised.

A factor that has made Miller even more dangerous is the emergence of Ashton Cartwright as another elusive receiver. Hickman assessed, "Cartwright is a speed burner. Having both Miller and Cartwright either on the same side of the field or opposite sides really does pose some problems on defense. Miller gets all the hype, but Cartwright when you look he just pops on film."

The quarterback for the Tigers is Michael Moshier a move-in this year. Moshier does an excellent job operating the Spread Offense for Silsbee, he is not a runner but he does hand the ball off well or run the bootleg while looking for an open receiver.

The offensive line is composed of four seniors. Xander Horton, Andrew LeBlanc, Jayden Smart, and Brayden Beasley provide protection for Moshier or open holes for the Silsbee running backs.

The two primary ball carriers are Trei Kibbles and Jonah Brown both seniors. Kibbles or Brown can go to the house on any running play either out of the Spread or from the I-Formation which Silsbee will shift into on occasions.

"This Tiger team has won all the way through, and this is the year they have been looking forward to as a school and as a community. The offense does cause some problems. We'll have a plan. We've looked at film and we're familiar with them because it is district play. We feel like our game plan will be good," Hickman indicated.

The Tigers get a lot of press about their offense, but the Silsbee defense is pretty good too. In the first four games the Tigers have surrendered 65 points.

Silsbee aligns in a 4-2-5 and will go back and forth with a 50 Defense depending on the opponent's offensive formation. Hickman admitted West Orange-Stark is working to do the same thing with the Mustang defense.

The best Tiger on defense is Jarmarion Elam at linebacker. Elam has started three years for Silsbee, is very big, and athletic. Hickman said Elam lines the Tigers up and gets them going. Hickman pointed out, "Elam is the guy who stirs the pot for Silsbee on defense. We've got to find a way to block him and get a body on him because Elam does a really good job."

Up front Jayden Smart can be a problem. Smart moves around well and will make his presence felt with quarterbacks and running backs.

"They're very sound. They've given up some points, but the Tigers' defense is kind of a bend but don't break defense," Hickman explained.

This is the opening game of the district and Coach Hickman believes all the pressure is on Silsbee. Hickman elaborated, "We've been in that situation before around here. All the pressure is on them so we're going to go out there, line up, and go towards the Tigers."

A repeat of the high scoring affair between the Mustangs and Newton could be repeated against Silsbee. "We're going to make adjustments to what we did. Offensively I think we'll be able to have some success against them. Defensively we're going to put ourselves in some situations where we're going to try to limit some things that they do. I believe by far we're the best team that Silsbee has played up to this point. Their coaches watching film on us are probably saying the Mustangs are the most athletic team that they've played. I don't think the Tigers have played a schedule like the Mustangs have played. We're battle tested and that's what our non-district does for us. When we line up Friday everybody's zero, zero. It's district play," Hickman concluded.

The West Orange-Stark Mustangs and the Silsbee Tigers will go at it on Friday. The kickoff will be at 7:30 PM in Dan R. Hooks Stadium.

 

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