Mustangs look to snap losing streak at Liberty
Last updated 9/26/2023 at 12:08pm
A third straight loss last week has West Orange-Stark looking to change its fortunes during the second half of the season. The Mustangs could start with a win on the road this Friday night.
Two state ranked teams met last week at Dan R. Hooks Stadium when the Mustangs played the Silsbee Tigers. The game was tied until midway through the second half but two touchdowns by the Tigers meant another tough defeat for West Orange-Stark.
Coach Hiawatha Hickman said the Mustangs had a good plan to slow down the high powered Silsbee offense. "We were going to try to limit the touches for their big guys. For about three quarters we were successful at doing that. I thought my defense executed the plan to perfection. A team averaging forty-nine points a game and we hold them to six for three quarters. We just had a couple plays late where the Tigers make a perfect throw and a perfect catch for one score and then we miss a tackle on a ten-yard pass and their receiver breaks it for their last score," Hickman reminded.
The Mustangs had their chances too to make a difference in the final score. Hickman explained, "We had a couple guys running wide open that we just didn't hit with passes. We probably could have scored three more touchdowns in that game if we had just executed like we need to. I know it's a loss, but still I think the Mustangs showed what we can be, where we are, how we're growing, we've just got to figure out how to win games like that."
West Orange-Stark had several players that stood out in the contest. Nicholas Crosson was assigned to guard Silsbee's most dangerous receiver Dre'lon Miller all night and played good on defense.
Taydren Perrault did a good job at cornerback and Arthur Hayes played well in WOS' nickel package. Joshua Miller and Ja'terraius Brown both played strong in the defensive front for the Mustangs rushing the Silsbee quarterback.
"I think we probably executed and played as good as we possibly could play on defense. Those guys I mentioned had a good night and we almost got there. We just didn't come in and play as good as we've been playing on offense," Hickman commented.
West Orange-Stark hits the road this week and travels to Liberty for its second district game. The Panthers have been struggling this season still looking for their first win after losing the district opener for them 48-0 to Jasper.
Liberty operates its offense out of the Spread which is a change from two years ago when the Panthers' offense was the Slot-T and strictly a ground and pound running game. A favorite play now is the bubble screen, but the Panthers will throw option routes to get the ball deep on occasion to their talented wide receivers.
The Panther quarterback is Frankie Marez a sophomore. Marez is a good athlete with a decent arm who keeps his eyes down the field looking for open receivers on pass plays.
Kade Jordan is a receiver for Liberty who can split out or be a tight end. Hickman described, "Jordan had a little success against us last year. He's a big, long, rangy guy. He caught a couple passes against Jasper last week."
Liberty is starting to adapt to the switch from the Slot-T to the Spread for the offense it uses. "The Panthers are getting a little bit better at it. We feel like it's something our defense can handle this week because we've seen it every week and the level of the competition that we've played these first five games has us ready, so we feel good going forward we feel like we getting where we need to be. Liberty is going to pose a challenge and we're going to treat this one just like we did Silsbee. We've got to go over there and get a "W" and become one and one in district," Hickman insisted.
The Panther defense bases out of a 4-2-5 alignment. West Orange-Stark is going to want to attack it with the run and the pass. The key could be avoiding turnovers because Liberty likes to back off opposing receivers and look for mistakes to be made by the opposing offense.
A leader on the Liberty defense is Ethan Tully at tackle in the front four. Tully moves around quite a bit and is very active.
The Panther secondary has a standout with Tony Dennan at cornerback. Dennan has made a couple of interceptions this season.
Two-way starter Kade Jordan is a very good tackler at weak safety. Last year as a junior Jordan had 65 tackles, two for losses, and was very active in the game against the Mustangs.
Hickman evaluated, "The Panthers are not real big on defense, they're small. They try to fly around to get to the ball. They had Jasper last week, that was a tough outing for them. Because of their size it kind of limits Liberty a little bit. They're not real big, but the kids play hard. We'll take it like anybody else. We need to go out and execute against them and be precise, and I think we'll be able to run the ball on them up front with our offensive line and continue to throw it like we've been doing and have success in the passing game."
This game Coach Hickman and his staff will work to keep the Mustangs' heads on straight and not be looking down the road to next week's opponent Hamshire-Fannett and later to Jasper. "We can't look too far forward, we've got to right the wrongs that we had from the other night. All the good things we did, we still had too many penalties, stuff like that we've got to correct. This is a good week to get all that fixed and there's some things we want to critique in our run game. We're going to try to fix some things this week and get ready. We can't look forward to the Longhorns we've got to look at Liberty," Hickman concluded.
West Orange-Stark plays Liberty on Friday. The game will kickoff at 7:30 PM in Liberty.