Mustangs play Hawks before starting playoffs next week
Last updated 10/31/2023 at 12:57pm
This past week was the bye week for West Orange-Stark. This week is the final game of the regular season and then next week is the first round of the state playoffs for the Mustangs.
With their bye week so late in the season the Mustangs took the time to heal up some injuries from the first nine weeks of the year and especially the Week 9 contest. "The Jasper game was a real physical game. We had some Mustangs banged up. We were able to get those guys some rest and get some treatment on some of them. I think everybody needed a little rest when your bye is so late," WOS Head Coach Hiawatha Hickman replied.
Workouts last week were intentionally less physical. Hickman explained, "We practiced a little different. We took it easy on the Mustangs to allow them to get their legs back under them for this next run because we've got HJ and then the playoffs coming up. It was good to kind of step back, relax, and get away from it while working on some things we needed to do."
One of the Mustangs that benefitted from the week without a game is Tahj Amerson who has been playing on both offense and defense for West Orange-Stark. Amerson had an injury to his back and should be fine to play this week after resting it during the bye week.
Daylen Edwards at defensive tackle had a shoulder problem and resting it will him to be available. Quarterback Marcus Turner hyperextended his knee in the game against Jasper, but is healed up with the off week and should be back to one hundred percent. "I feel now going into HJ we'll be real healthy and ready to roll," Hickman responded.
Hardin-Jefferson is the opponent for West Orange-Stark in Week 11. The Hawks have had a tough season losing all nine of their games scoring 99 points while allowing 410 in those games.
The Hawks base their offense out of the Spread. They will split their four wide receivers either two to both sides or will use three to one side and a single receiver on the opposite side of the field.
An H-Back formation is an alternative Hardin-Jefferson will employ. The Hawks will run the counter, the buck sweep, and are pretty similar to WOS in the plays they use out of the Spread throwing and running the ball.
A standout for the Hawks is tight end Wyatt Samaha who is a D-1 college football prospect. Hickman described, "Wyatt's big, fast, and you have to account for where he is. They put him in as a blocker and as a receiver."
The quarterback position has been inherited by freshman Bryndyn Lee. The starter last year transferred to Anahuac, and his replacement was injured earlier in the season leaving the job to Lee.
Despite their winless record some the Hawks look good on film according to Hickman. Receivers Rodrick Russell and Samuel Jones are tall, lean, and athletic looking guys who can be dangerous if they get the football.
A major problem for Hardin-Jefferson has been injuries to members of the offensive line. Four starters for the Hawks front line on offense were out of the lineup in their last game against Jasper.
The loss of offensive linemen and the lopsided scores in most of their games have dictated the Hawks' play calling. "The Hawks throw it quite a bit. Because of their offensive linemen woes they haven't been able to run it real well. They will run the quarterback from time to time, but they do like to throw it when their blockers give Lee enough time. They're balanced and they will do a little bit of both," Hickman analyzed.
The defense for Hardin-Jefferson is even more multiple than the offense. The Hawks will lineup in the 3-3 Stack, a 3-4 look, and sometimes in a 4-2 formation to attempt to compensate for the talent they have on defense to confuse opposing offenses.
The two best players on defense for the Hawks are Samuel Jones and Ryland Harvey. At linebacker Jones and Harvey play the run game well.
The secondary does have some athletes like Carson Laborde and Kilrean Brown. Two Hawks who are probably basketball players coming out for football Rico Russell and Taveyian Thomas will be the cornerbacks for HJ and both are very good.
Hickman commented, "The Hawks bring those two linebackers quite often. They blitz a lot and are very aggressive. Hardin-Jefferson takes some chances. I guess they have to because of personnel. If we block them up against their blitzes we'll have some opportunities for some big plays on them because they do take so many chances up front."
Seeding for the post season has West Orange-Stark locked in at the fourth position for District 9-4A Division II. The final game of the regular season for the Mustangs will be played for pride.
What is the motivation for West Orange-Stark traveling to Sour Lake to play the Hawks? "We just want to go over there and get that sour taste out of our mouths after the Jasper game last week and get back to winning. The Mustangs want to go to HJ to do what we've got to do to take care of that and try to come out of it injury free. We'll get ready for the playoffs the next week. We've got some things we want to work on, so we'll go over there and add some things like we do every week to try to get us a win. This will be another week adding on to what we're doing to build us up to get ready for the post season. After that you know everybody's zero, zero. I'm just trusting that our schedule has prepared us for the post season," Hickman concluded.
The West Orange-Stark Mustangs will travel to Sour Lake to play the Hardin-Jefferson Hawks. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 on Friday night.