Mustangs joust with Jasper on Friday
Last updated 10/17/2023 at 1:27pm
West Orange-Stark captured a tense win last week. This Friday the Mustangs have an important game to decide playoff seeding in the post season.
The Bridge City Cardinals proved to be anything but a walkover for West Orange-Stark. The Mustangs trailed at the half by seven points before playing a strong second that earned them a 28-14 win.
Coach Hiawatha Hickman said the Cardinals showed up ready to play and it turned out to be a second half game for his Mustangs. "We didn't execute like we needed to in the first half against a team like Bridge City. We always get an opponent's best shot because of who we are. Nothing but compliments to Bridge City for the way they played. It was a clean game with no major issues. The Cardinals really played hard. I thought they really got after us up front with their defensive line which kind of surprised me how well they played and we weren't able to handle them at least in the first half," Hickman recalled.
Adjustments were made by Hickman and West Orange-Stark coaches which led to the Mustangs' comeback in the last two quarters. Hickman advised, "In the second half the adjustments helped us get a couple scores to get on top and pull the game out. The most important thing was to get a win and get out of there and win a close game. We hadn't won a close game since the opener. All our other close games we found a way not to win them, but we were able to pull that one out and come from behind."
The Mustangs pulled together after half time following a talk from the coaches. "We executed in the second half. Marcus (Turner) got going completing some passes that went really well. We adjusted on defense and only gave up one score in the second half. The first half didn't go as we wanted it to, but we did what we needed to do which was get a win," Hickman capsulated.
More good news for West Orange-Stark is the Mustangs came out of the game pretty much injury free. WOS should be at full strength for this Friday night's big game.
The Jasper Bulldogs come to town to play the Mustangs who are 2-2 in district. The Bulldogs are 2-1 in district having shutout wins against Liberty and Bridge City while losing by three to Hamshire-Fannett.
The consensus is the Bulldogs may have the most athletic team in District 9-4A Division II. Jasper runs its offense from the Spread and can be compared very much to the explosive Silsbee offense.
The offense starts with junior quarterback Isaiah Coleman who is in his first year as the starter for the Bulldogs. Coleman can run and throw the football similar to Bridge City's Hutch Bearden while executing the Jasper offense well.
The passing game for Jasper is either deep or short. Hickman explained, "The Bulldogs like to throw the deep ball or they like to throw the slip screens. They kind of remind me of Silsbee with two really good wide receivers on the edge in Britain Simmons and Raja Garza-Adams that they like to run the bubble screens with. They like to get the ball in their skill guys' hands to let them make things happen."
The primary running back is ZyKeelan Hadnot who compliments the passing game very nicely for the Bulldogs. "He's a very good running back. We'll have to account for him," Hickman added.
A big offensive line helps Coleman find time to throw and opens holes for the running game. Right tackle Demetrias Dean is a leader in Jasper's O-line.
Hickman evaluated, "Man to man, I think, Jasper may be the most talented team in the district. They're very, very talented in all phases the offensive line, quarterback, and skill guys are all very talented."
"You're going to have to out execute them. We watched the Bulldogs on film and they have way more athletes than Hamshire-Fannett, but the Longhorns were able to execute some things against them schematically to give them a chance to win, and we'll have to do the same," Hickman analyzed.
Jasper has a really stout 50 Defense. All eleven starters return from last season for the Bulldogs with ten seniors and one junior to give them plenty of big game experience to draw on.
Just like their offense, the Bulldog defense may be the most athletic man to man team in the district according to Coach Hickman. Middle linebacker TyAnthony Smith is a commit to Texas A&M and runs all over the field making tackles everywhere.
Another leader on defense for Jasper is Tylon Garrett in the defensive line. Garrett was all-district last year with 15 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 10 sacks. Hickman described Garrett, "He's big, he's fast, he's physical. You've got to account for Garrett on every play. He'll wreck an offense, he's just that type of guy."
Two other stalwarts in the defensive line are the brothers Zaylon Beatty and Zakylon Beatty who compliment Garrett very well. "Those three down line men do a really good job. The Bulldogs are by far the most athletic and probably the best defense we've seen all year," Hickman stated.
The game between West Orange-Stark and Jasper carries important significance for the district seeding when the playoffs start in November. A win would almost assure no worse than a third place finish for either the Mustangs or the Bulldogs which is preferable to a fourth place finish and a meeting with most likely the Bellville Brahmas in the first round.
Hickman gave the strategy for WOS. "We've got to bring the energy like we have against all the other district teams and make it a second half game. If we can get it into the fourth quarter and be close to try to pull the game out in the end is the goal. We're going to try to control the clock and take our shots when we get a chance. Defensively, we've got to be sound because Jasper does have some dangerous runners and they throw it deep. We'll have a lot of the same game plan we've used before against opponents like Jasper. We'll try to stop the run and be very sound against the pass to get it to the fourth quarter. If we get it to the fourth quarter we feel we've got a chance," Hickman concluded.
West Orange-Stark plays Jasper on Friday night. The Mustangs and the Bulldogs will kick off their game at 7:30 in Dan R. Hooks Stadium.